High Court Upholds Strict Standards for Replacing Executors in Will Disputes

The High Court recently rejected an application to replace executors of a will where there was no proof of serious misconduct or significant special circumstances. In this article Emma Comyn, Partner, CKT and Sarah Biggin, Trainee Solicitor, CKT give an overview of this case and highlight an important takeaway.


In the 2023 case of Casey v Casey (Re Casey’s Estate), the High Court confirmed when someone can apply for a different person to be appointed to administer an estate instead of the executor originally named.


In this case, the applicant claimed that the executors of his late father’s will had misused funds. He asked the Court to replace them with someone independent to administer the estate. Section 27(4) of the Succession Act1965 allows a Court to appoint someone else instead of the named executor if there’s a good reason to do so.

However, this is usually only done under specific circumstances. The Dunne v Heffernan [1997] 3 IR 431 case established a high standard for removing executors, requiring serious misconduct or exceptional reasons. The applicant in this case argued that this high standard should not apply when applying to appoint a different person instead of the named executor.

The executors argued that the same high standard should apply, even when deciding to replace them with an independent person.

The Court’s Ruling

In the High Court Justice Stack emphasized that a Court should respect the deceased person’s wishes, as it is a serious matter to override those wishes. She ruled that the high standard from Dunne v Heffernan [1997] 3 IR 431 continues to apply, meaning that there must be proof of serious misconduct or significant special circumstances before replacing an executor. Justice Stack found that in this case, there was no such proof, so the applicant’s request to replace the executors was denied.


This case makes it clear that the Court is committed to honouring the wishes of the person who made the will.  To appoint someone other than the named executor, you need strong evidence of serious misconduct by the appointed executor or significant special circumstances. Without that, the Court is unlikely to replace the executor.

Emma Comyn, Partner CKT deals with the administration of estates from extremely complex to simple straight forward affairs every day. Emma provides practical and commercial advice to help clients put a framework in place in the event of their death to ensure their wishes are carried out.  For further information, or to enquire about making a will, you can contact Emma on 021 4626900.