A will executor is a person chosen to manage a deceased person’s property and money. Will executors ensure that property is given to the rightful beneficiaries. If a person has a valid will or dies without a will, there will be an executor to help with the probate process.
If the deceased person (testator) left a will, the executor will usually be named in the will document. In some cases, the court will appoint an executor. For instance, when the person died without a will and the property goes through probate. However, the duties and obligations of the executor will be the same in either case.
What Are the Duties and Obligations of an Executor?
The duties of an executor revolve around the tasks that need to be completed with regards to the deceased person’s estate. These can include:
Identifying all the deceased person’s property and bank account funds
- Earmarking the property for distribution
- Identifying and contacting specific beneficiaries and heirs named in the will
- Resolving any tax debt or financial disputes about the property and various other tasks.
Besides these duties, the will executor also has other ethical obligations to the beneficiaries. These include the obligation to:
- Be open and honest when communicating with beneficiaries
- Refrain from seeking personal profit or gain from their position
- Exercise sound, reasonable judgment when it comes to making legal and financial decisions
The will executor will also be bound by any specific instructions that might be contained in the will documents.
What Should I Do If I Plan to Sue a Will Executor?
One of the main difficulties is that the original owner of the property is deceased. The deceased is no longer around to spell out how the property should be distributed.
The will executor has the responsibility of figuring out what the testator’s intentions were with regards to the property. In some cases, the will executor may make a major error with regards to the distributions. This could expose them to legal liability if the error causes another person major losses.
It is a major violation if executors attempt to skew the wording of a will to reap personal gain for themselves. These are serious types of violations that can lead to a lawsuit and even criminal consequences.
If you suspect that you will be suing a will executor, you should attempt to document what you believe the violation involves. You may wish to:
- Review the will documents to determine what your rights or the rights of the affected parties may have been
- Make a written account of any statements or actions that the executor took that could be used as evidence against them.
These can be used in a court of law to help when the court is calculating damage awards.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Sue a Will Executor?
Estate issues can be complex, often requiring the aid of a qualified estate lawyer. You may wish to contact a wills and estates lawyer in your area if you need help or guidance when suing a will executor. State laws may vary, and each legal filing will be different depending on the type of property involved. Working with a lawyer can help maximize your ability to resolve the specific legal issues you’re facing.