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A Better Partnership
June 21, 2013

COA holds that petitioner may use the statutory grounds for personal representative's removal to contest appointment

In Stan v. Stan (In re Estate of Stan), the Court of Appeals considered whether a beneficiary's challenge to the appointment of a named personal representative triggered an in terrorem clause. By statute, in terrorem clauses are not enforceable where the challenger has 'probable cause' to challenge a provision in the will. Here, the Court held that the challenger had probable cause. The named personal representative had improperly taken charge of estate assets prior to her appointment. The challenger argued that several of the statutory grounds for the representative's removal were present: mismanagement of the estate, failure to perform official duties, and the estate's best interests. Based on the facts known to her, the Court held that the challenger had probable cause to challenge the representative appointment, even though her challenge was not successful. Accordingly, the Court ruled that the in terrorem clause was not enforceable.

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