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Fiduciary Removal

New York City Lawyer for Estate Litigation

In New York, fiduciaries are appointed for the administration of estates and trusts. Fiduciaries include executors, trustees, administrators, and preliminary executors. They owe beneficiaries a very high standard of care. They must abide by the law and the terms of the applicable will or trust in performing their duties. If they do not, they may be subject to fiduciary removal proceedings. New York City estate litigation attorney Jules Haas has represented fiduciaries, beneficiaries, and estate executors in situations that gave rise to fiduciary removal, and is available to answer your questions.

Fiduciary Removal

Certain circumstances can justify the removal of a fiduciary. When a fiduciary acts in a negligent or improper way, a beneficiary may claim there was a breach of fiduciary duty. The beneficiary may try to have the fiduciary removed or have the fiduciary’s powers modified or suspended. Generally, revoking authority altogether, which is equivalent to removing the fiduciary, is considered a serious change to the fiduciary’s authority and it’s only done in the event of seriously harmful misconduct. Where the circumstances are less serious, the court may modify or suspend the fiduciary’s authority. The removal of the fiduciary is within the Surrogate’s Court’s discretion. However, statutes specify a range of grounds based upon which a fiduciary may be removed.

Fiduciary Removal Procedures

If a fiduciary is appointed by the Surrogate’s Court, the judge issues the fiduciary letters, which are proof that the fiduciary is legally authorized to take certain actions. There are different ways to proceed to get a fiduciary removed or have his powers suspended, modified, or revoked under the New York Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act. Fiduciary removal can proceed under the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act section 711 or section 719. A knowledgeable estate litigation lawyer can represent you in proceedings of this kind.

Under section 711, the court can revoke, modify, or suspend fiduciary letters for a host of different reasons that constitute misconduct or warrant disqualification. Grounds for petition include waste or improper application of the assets of the estate. Grounds also include unauthorized investments or misconduct in executing the office. They can also include dishonesty, want of understanding, improvidence, and drunkenness. It is also possible to pursue revocation or removal where the grant of letters was secured through a false suggestion of material fact. Another ground for revocation includes a fiduciary’s willful refusal to obey the court’s lawful direction related to the discharge of his duties.

Under section 719, letters may be revoked, modified, or suspended, and a lifetime trustee may be removed or have his powers suspended or modified without process where certain grounds exist. Grounds for removal under this section can include when a fiduciary fails to appear upon the return of process without showing a satisfactory reason, and a judge has enough reason to think there’s no legitimate excuse for it. A fiduciary can also have letters revoked if he doesn’t file an account after being ordered to do so. Another basis for action under section 719 is when a fiduciary defaults in giving information about the estate’s assets or the affairs of the estate in accordance with court orders. Still another ground is when a fiduciary has been convicted of a felony, was judicially committed, or when a court has declared him incompetent. Another ground for removal is when a fiduciary mingles estate funds with his own, or deposits them in an account other than as a fiduciary of the trust or estate.

Judicial Discretion

Although there are many grounds for removal set forth under the statutes, the New York Surrogate’s Courts don’t readily remove a fiduciary that was nominated by a decedent. Rather it will try to respect the choice in fiduciaries made by the person who executed the will or trust.

The Surrogate’s Court has discretion over whether to accept a request for removal, and whether to temporarily suspend a fiduciary’s authority while the matter is pending. It also has discretion over removal. The conduct at issue has to be truly harmful to result in a full removal.

Consult a Seasoned Estate Litigation Attorney in New York City

In New York City, fiduciary removal is a serious proceeding. It’s advisable to retain an experienced lawyer to represent you whether you are being challenged as fiduciary or you are trying to get a fiduciary removed. Mr. Haas possesses over three decades of experience representing people in New York City estate litigation. He represents people in Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan, Kings, Richmond, Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties. Please call us at (212) 355-2575 for a free consultation, or contact us through our online form.

Client Reviews
I am very grateful to Mr. Jules Martin Haas attorney of law in New York. I am from Buenos Aires Argentina. He managed with expertise a very difficult situation. of a complicate heritage from my aunt Anna Grodzka that lived and died a very long time ago in New York. I recommend him not only for his extraordinary knowledge but also for his kindness. Irma CW Peusner
I found Mr. Haas after being misguided by a former attorney. Mr. Jules Haas took our case which involved an estate/trust dispute. What initially seemed like an impossible and overwhelming legal fight was now in the hands of someone who had the integrity and legal expertise to win our case. Mr Haas' attention to detail and his expert knowledge base, skillfully and successfully guided us through an intricate legal process. I am very thankful and grateful to Mr. Jules Haas for representing our interest and ultimately winning. Bringing about a peace of mind we needed. Thank You Devida Nedd
I was in need of a guardianship attorney and I hired the services of Jules M. Haas' Law firm. The service of counselor Haas and his staff, was very profesional and the case was handled in a timely matter. I would strongly recommend his services Angel Guevara
I strongly recommend Jules Haas. I have worked with him for two years and he has provided so much support and followed through with everything he promised he would do. His support staff is just as helpful! We had an interesting case and he helped to solve each part of it legally and was very thorough. Thank you for everything you have done to finalize our families estate Robyn Stafford
Jules Haas helped me with managing the process in probate court for my father's estate through to its completion upon the sale of my father's house. He was knowledgeable, efficient, and effective in submitting documentation to the probate court, explaining procedures to me, and advising me as to the progress of my case. His support staff was also very helpful. He made what for me created so much anxiety into something manageable where I could see progress every step of the way. His fees were very reasonable. I am super grateful to him for all the help he has provided and strongly recommend his services. Diana Janer
I just completed an estate transaction where Jules Haas represented my client in an estate and he did a great job! He was very quick at responding to all matters throughout the sale process, he was detailed, he was knowledgeable and he was a pleasure to work with. I just recommended him to some new clients who are going through an estate matter and will continue to recommend him. Rodolfo Lucchese