The cost involved in asking a probate court (we don't have a "circuit court" in Massachusetts) to remove the executor of an estate can vary wildly -- there is absolutely no way to give you an estimate because each such case is unique. You have to demonstrate to the court's satisfaction that the executor is unfit to hold his office, which means you have to come up with the facts to support that claim. There are different ways an executor could be found to be unfit -- refusing to do his job, failing to file appropriate paperwork, playing favorites, making improper decisions concerning the sale of estate assets, etc. On the other hand, just because you don't like what an executor has or hasn't done doesn't automatically make it wrong. And sometimes it only takes a couple of letters or calls from an attorney to an executor to put the fear of God in him.
I suggest that you sit down with an attorney who practices probate litigation and review the specifics of the case. The attorney can then explain to you in more detail what would be involved.
E. Alexandra "Sasha" Golden is a Massachusetts lawyer. All answers are based on Massachusetts law. All answers are for educational purposes and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to a question.
I agree with Attorney Golden. There is no way to know the cost because there is no way to anticipate the time involved. It depends on many factors, including: will the current executor cooperate; what are the nature of the objections to the executor's performance; what is the evidence to suppport the claim; are other heirs / beneficiaries in agreement; etc. I definitely agree that this should be brought to an attorney for review and advice.
Good luck -
Please note: The above is for general information purposes only. It is not intended to establish and does not establish any attorney-client relationship.
I would agree that you can't estimate the time involved in this type of action. Certainly playing a part will be the level of contest/defense that the existing personal representative displays. Discussing the facts with an attorney may be the best way to determine the approach that you want to take. Good Luck.
*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and have an office in Reading.. My practice is focused in the areas of elder law, estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state.
To be clear, if there are certain things the executor should have done but hasn't, you can make specific request to the court for those items (i.e., inventory, account, and if long enough has passed since the date of death, request for distribution.)
If there really is harm ensuing from the executor's action, you want more than a complaint filed. You'd actually need to litigate, and understand that if you are not successful, the executor's attorney fees are (generally) being paid in part out of your share of the estate. In contrast, you are paying as you go, so there is an imbalance in favor of the executor.
As to particular cost, it would really depend upon facts and circumstances - that said - probate attorneys generally would be willing to hear additional facts and give you a (very) rough idea of what it might run. If it isn't a substantial estate, it may not be worth the bother -- unless you are willing to spend sufficient money to attain your ends, regardless of the eventual financial recovery. Most folks end up realizing that it may well be a question of money, in the end.