How to remove or replace an executor: Issuing a citation

Lawyer Naomi Ireson looks at how to remove an executor by issuing a citation

At Slee Blackwell we are frequently contacted by frustrated beneficiaries who want to remove or replace the executor of a Will due to the executor's refusal or inability to administer an estate.

It is surprising how many executors think they are above the law and ignore the legal obligations and duties that come with the role, many simply refusing to administer the estate properly, in accordance with the terms of the will.

Quite understandably, beneficiaries usually want to receive their share of an estate without delay. They therefore tend to turn to us when this has not happened.

Most disgruntled beneficiaries ask whether they can remove an executor or have the executor replaced.

However, removing an executor is not a straightforward procedure. Applications to the court to remove an executor can be expensive and time consuming.

Sometimes the beneficiary will have no alternative to taking court action, but in other estates it isnt always commercially viable for the beneficiary to apply to remove the executor.

However there is another option.

Not many people are aware that they can issue a citation. Although this is relatively uncommon procedure it can nevertheless be a very useful one.

It can also be a much more economic route to take, particularly as it only attracts a nominal court fee of £12 (as at December 2018). It will not be suitable in all situations where a beneficially wants to remove an executor but it is a useful tool to have when the circumstances are right.

So, what is a citation?

A citation is a notice calling on a person to accept or refuse a grant, to take probate or to propound a Will.

There are two options for citations, these are:

1. A citation to accept or refuse a grant.

    A failure on the part of the executor to do so enables the beneficiary/applicant to apply to a registrar for an order for a grant to himself

2. A citation to propound a will.

    A failure on the part of the executor to do so enables the beneficiary/applicant to apply to a registrar for an order for a grant as if the will were invalid

The citation procedure is somewhat old fashioned and is governed by the Non Contentious Probate Rules 1987. It requires an affidavit to be sworn and the application to be personally served on the executor.

Although it is more straightforward than making an application to remove or replace an executor, issuing a citation is nevertheless an application which you should take legal advice about before embarking on.

If you require guidance on removing or replacing an executor or issuing a citation contact our free helpline on 0808 139 1599 or email us at