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Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act § 711: Suspension, Modification or Revocation of Letters or Removal For Disqualification or Misconduct

Probate is the legal process that occurs when someone passes away with a will. The executor named in the will and appointed by the Surrogate’s Court is charged with the responsibility of winding up the decedent’s estate, paying estate debts, and distributing the assets. However, in order to serve as executor, the individual must be qualified, and remain qualified. If he or she becomes ineligible to serve as executor, an interested party has the right to petition the court to have the executor’s authority suspended, modified or revoked. To learn more about the rules related to the appointment of an executor or other fiduciary, including the requirements of Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act § 711, Suspension, modification or revocation of letters or removal for disqualification or misconduct, contact an experienced probate lawyer serving New York at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates.

Related statutory provisions
  1. Eligibility to receive letters: Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, § 707
  2. Qualification of fiduciaries: Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, § 708
  3. Objection to grant of letters or appointment of lifetime trustee: Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, § 709
  4. Objections which require bond from fiduciary not otherwise required to file bond: Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, § 710
Suspension, modification or revocation of letters or removal for disqualification or misconduct

When a executor or other fiduciary is appointed by the Surrogate’s Court, the judge will issue the fiduciary a document called letters. Letters are conclusive proof that the person named has been appointed by the court and has the legal authority to take certain actions as fiduciary. As a New York probate lawyer will explain, there are many different types of letters. The letters will state the authority given to the fiduciary as well as any restrictions. In addition, the Surrogate’s Court may require the fiduciary to post a bond. If the fiduciary is unable to do so, then the court may revoke his or her letters.

New York law allows certain interested parties to petition the court asking that a fiduciary’s letters be revoked, suspended, or modified.

  • Ineligible. An interested party has the right to petition the court for suspension, revoked, or modified on the grounds that the respondent is ineligible only if the petitioner did not object at the time that the respondent petitioned for letters, of if the respondent became ineligible after the letters were granted.
  • Wasted assets. If the respondent has wasted the assets of the estate or made unauthorized or improvident investments.
  • Damaged property. If the respondent damaged estate property.
  • Dishonest, drunkenness. If the respondent is unfit to serve due to dishonesty, drunkenness, or want of understanding.
  • Failed to obey direction of the court. If the respondent willfully or without good caused failed to obey a direction of the court.
  • Contingency. If the terms of the will directed that the respondent’s service as executor would end upon the occurrence of a contingency.
  • Address change. If the respondent failed to notify the court of an address change.
  • Removed property. If the responded removed estate property without prior court approval.

If you have questions related to the qualifications to be a fiduciary, or if your or concerned that a fiduciary in an estate matter in which you have an interest is no longer qualified, discuss you concerns with an experienced probate lawyer in New York.

Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act § 711. Suspension, modification or revocation of letters or removal for disqualification or misconduct

In any of the following cases a co-fiduciary, creditor, person interested, any person on behalf of an infant or any surety on a bond of a fiduciary may present to the court having jurisdiction a petition praying for a decree suspending, modifying or revoking those letters and that the fiduciary may be cited to show cause why a decree should not be made accordingly:

  1. Where the respondent was, when letters were issued to him, or has since become ineligible or disqualified to act as fiduciary and the grounds of the objection did not exist or the objection was not taken by the petitioner or a person whom he represents before the letters were granted.
  2. Where by reason of his having wasted or improperly applied the assets of the estate, or made investments unauthorized by law or otherwise improvidently managed or injured the property committed to his charge, including by failing to comply with paragraph (c) of section 8-1.9 of the estates, powers and trusts law , or by reason of other misconduct in the execution of his office or dishonesty, drunkenness, improvidence or want of understanding, he is unfit for the execution of his office.
  3. Where he has wilfully refused or without good cause neglected to obey any lawful direction of the court contained in any decree or order or any provision of law relating to the discharge of his duty.
  4. Where the grant of his letters was obtained by a false suggestion of a material fact.
  5. Where by the terms of a will, deed or order, his office was to cease upon a contingency which has happened.
  6. Where he has failed without sufficient reason to notify the court of his change of address within 30 days after such change.
  7. Where he has removed property of the estate without the state without prior approval of the court.
  8. Where he or she does not possess the qualifications required of a fiduciary by reason of substance abuse, dishonesty, improvidence, want of understanding, or who is otherwise unfit for the execution of the office.
  9. In the case of a guardian, where he has removed or is about to remove from the state or where the interests of the infant will be promoted by the appointment of another person as guardian.
  10. In the case of a testamentary trustee, where he has violated or threatens to violate his trust or is insolvent or his insolvency is apprehended or is for any other cause deemed an unsuitable person to execute the trust.
  11. In the case of a lifetime trustee, a creditor or a person interested, any person in behalf of an infant or any surety on a bond of the trustee may present to the court having jurisdiction a petition praying for a decree removing the trustee or suspending or modifying his appointment and that the trustee may be cited to show cause why a decree should not be made accordingly where the supreme court, if it had jurisdiction, would have cause to remove the trustee or to suspend or modify his appointment.
  12. In the case of any fiduciary who fails to file an account within such time and in such manner as directed by the court.
Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

For over two decades the New York probate attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have successfully represented clients in matters related to probate, estate administration, and estate litigation before the New York Surrogate’s Court. If you are an interested party such as an executor, beneficiary, heir, or fiduciary in a matter related to the requirements of New York SCPA section 711, Suspension, modification or revocation of letters or removal for disqualification or misconduct, or any other will, estate, or trust matter, contact one of our attorneys at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Long Island, Nassau County, Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County, and Westchester County.

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