While executors should always act in the interest of the estate and beneficiaries, it is not always the case. Some executors may seek to benefit themselves from the estate of the deceased, all at the expense of the heirs who may end up losing a lot. If this happens, you need to raise the alarm as a beneficiary before it is too late to save the situation.
An executor holds a position of trust that is legally recognized, and they are supposed to act in a certain way. They owe you a fiduciary duty when handling the estate’s assets and if they breach that duty, you may hold them accountable for their actions.
Possible scenarios of executor misconduct
Since the executor controls the estate accounts for the probate’s whole duration, they may:
- Misappropriate funds through unnecessary expenses or by paying themselves excessive fees.
- Transfer property or assets from the estate to the executor’s names or other third parties.
- Fail in their duties such as paying creditors which may hurt the estate.
- Hold on to the estate even after debts have been cleared instead of dividing it among the beneficiaries.
Generally, anything the executor does that is not in the estate’s best interests may amount to executor misconduct.
Taking action against the executor
To protect yourself from a rogue executor, it is advisable to stay involved in the whole probate process. Get copies of estate documents beforehand and scrutinize the paper trail. Should you suspect something off with anything related to the estate, you can seek clarification from the executor.
If your executor is indeed stealing from or misappropriating the estate, you may need to involve the court overseeing the probate. The executor may end up being replaced from their role, and legal action taken to recover whatever they stole from the estate.