Executor De Son Tort

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 What Is an Executor de Son Tort?

An executor de son tort is a person who interferes with the administration of a deceased person’s estate when they lack the legal authority to do this. An executor is a person who is appointed in a will to administer the estate. Or, an executor may be appointed by a court.The executor de son tort has not been appointed but takes it upon themselves to meddle in the administration of the estate of a deceased person and to act as if they are an executor.

State law regulates wills, estates, and probate, so each state defines an “executor de son tort” in its own way. State law determines what the liability is for a person who acts as an executor de son tort.

The term “executor de son tort” can be translated as “executor of one’s own wrong.” In other words, a person who is an executor de son tort becomes the executor of an estate because of their own improper actions.

The laws that apply to estate administration provide that a meddler who takes actions in connection with an estate is an executor de son tort if the following are true:

  • The person asserts ownership over some portion of the deceased’s estate. For example, they might sell property of the estate or liquidate investments, e.g.,sell stock holdings; and
  • Their actions are unlawful because they do not have the legal authority to take the actions.

Suppose a person claims ownership over the real property of a deceased person or distributes some of their personal belongings to heirs of their choosing. In that case, they become an executor de son tort. Actions carried out in accordance with the terms of a fake or forged will also qualify as conduct that puts a person into the position of an executor de son tort.

An executor de son tort may be legally liable for any losses resulting from improper handling of the estate’s property.

However, in some states, if the unauthorized actions of an executor de son tort are motivated by charity and goodwill for the deceased, they do not make the person who takes the actions into an executor de son tort. Rather, it has to be proven that the person showed some sort of unlawful or harmful intent when they acted without proper authority.

Again, a “rightful executor” is a person who has the legal authority to administer a deceased person’s estate in probate. A rightful executor is either named in the will of the deceased person or, if no one is named, appointed by a probate court. A probate court might also appoint an executor if the executor named in the will renounces the role or applies to the court to be relieved of the role.

In a reported case from Canada, which has similar laws regarding wills, probate and executors, the deceased left primary and secondary wills. Both of them appointed his wife and daughter as executors of the estate. The daughter renounced the role of executor, and the wife began to administer the estate.

The probate court ordered the wife to submit an official application to the court for appointment as the executor. The court warned that if she did not apply, she would have to renounce her appointment. The wife of the deceased failed to do as ordered, so by the operation of law in Canada, her right to serve as the executor was lost.

The wife, however, continued to manage the business that the estate owned. When another party applied to be appointed as the executor, the court ruled that although the wife’s right to act as executor had been lost, the role had still devolved to her as an executor de son tort due to her meddling in the management of an estate asset. The court held that the wife could only be removed through the appropriate process for the removal or resignation of an executor.

Does an Executor de Son Tort Have Any Rights?

Generally speaking, when someone becomes an executor de son tort, they also assume all of the duties and obligations associated with a rightful executor. However, they are not entitled to receive any of the benefits that a rightful executor might receive, such as compensation for their efforts.

In other words, the person is legally liable for all actions taken while they were the executor de son tort. So, an executor de son tort can be sued as if they were an executor with full legal authority. However, they would not receive any advantages from the estate because they are not a legal executor.

Also, an executor de son tort is legally liable to the true executor or personal representative of an estate when one is appointed for the value of all the property that the executor de son tor may have taken or converted. The executor de son tort is also legally liable for all damages to the estate caused by any of their wrongful actions. Additionally, an executor de son tort does not have the right to file a lawsuit on behalf of the estate.

What If There Is a Conflict With Another Executor?

If the executor de son tort acts in a way that conflicts with another rightful executor, the decisions made by the rightful executor usually prevail.

If the conflict continues, the rightful executors may file a lawsuit to have the executor de son tort removed. Alternatively, they might try to get an injunction. An injunction is an order that a court issues directing a person to cease certain actions.

Courts often issue injunctions in cases of domestic abuse, but a court can issue an injunction in any case in which it is appropriate. In the case of an executor de son tort, the injunction would order the person to cease acting as an executor de son tort.

On the other hand, another rightful executor can approve the actions of the executor de son tort as long as they do not conflict with the provisions contained in the deceased’s will. Of course, a probate court would also consider the rights of the deceased’s heirs when evaluating the acts or decisions of an executor de son tort.

Do I Need the Help of a Lawyer for an Executor de Son Tort Issue?

Disputes over estate property can arise when a will is probated. They can involve a broad range of legal issues. The situation can become complicated if a person acts as an executor de son tort in a probate case. The probate court may even have to intervene to resolve a situation involving an executor de son tort dispute.

Thus, if you are involved in a probate involving an executor de son tort, you must consult an experienced estate lawyer. Your estate lawyer can represent you in court in an action to have the executor de son tort removed and sort out any legal problems that may have resulted from the actions of the executor de son tort.

Alternatively, if you are the person who is being sued for acting as an executor de tort, then you should speak to an estate lawyer right away. Your lawyer will be able to determine and discuss the possible legal issues that your actions may have created. They can advise you about possible ways to limit your liability and get you the legal authority you need to serve as a regular executor.

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