Hostility Between Beneficiaries and the Executor/Trustee

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann, a Freehold, NJ Will Contest and Probate Estate Litigation Attorney

As a general rule, mere friction or hostility between a beneficiary and an executor or trustee is not a sufficient reason to remove the executor or trustee. The reason is fairly obvious. A beneficiary who otherwise lacks sufficient grounds for removal of the executor or trustee could nevertheless compel his or her removal simply by instigating a fight. Generally, in order for friction or hostility between the beneficiary and executor or trustee to form the basis for removal, there must be proof that the relationship will likely interfere materially with the administration of the estate or trust. Hereafter, I’m going to refer to both an executor and trustee as the “fiduciary”.

The court may remove a fiduciary from office when:

  1. After being informed by an order or judgment of the court, he or she neglects or refuses within the time fixed by the court, to file an inventory, render an accounting or give security or additional security; or
  2. After notice of any other order or judgment of the court, he or she neglects or refuses to perform or obey the order or judgment within the time fixed by the court; or
  3. He or she has embezzled, wasted or misused any portion of the estate or trust under his or her custody and control, or has abused a duty of trust and confidence imposed upon him or her as a matter of law; or
  4. He or she has relocated from New Jersey and no longer resides in the state and neglects or refuses to proceed with the administration of the estate and perform the duties required as a matter of law; or
  5. He or she is of unsound mind or mentally incapacitated for the administration of the estate or trust; or
  6. When there are two (2) or more fiduciaries appointed, one or more of them have neglected or refused to perform his or her duties or to join with the other fiduciary or fiduciaries in the administration of the estate committed to their care such that the proper administration and settlement of the estate is or may be hindered or prevented.

Unless the reasons for removal fall within the six (6) enumerated reasons, it is very difficult to successfully remove a fiduciary.

To discuss your probate estate litigation matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.