An executor of estate has the fiduciary duty to protect and manage a deceased person’s property, in the best interest of the estate. Tasks such as paying off debts, paying taxes, and any other issues pertaining to the estate are entrusted to the executor. The executor is also responsible for distributing the estate to its heirs.
There are also many things that an executor cannot do, that will result in executor liability and legal proceedings, including:
- Mixing their personal funds with the estate;
- Making overly risky judgments with the estate’s investments;
- Using estate assets for personal gain;
- Denying heirs of what is rightfully theirs; and
- Failing to follow the exact instructions of the decedent's will
What Are Some Legal Effects of Suing an Estate Executor?
There are a few things that can happen when you sue an estate executor, such as the removal of the executor from his position. Also, should the court find an executor at fault, then damages are typically awarded to the plaintiff. If the executor is responsible for any loss suffered by the plaintiff(s), then they must remedy the situation and make up for what is owed.
What Should I Consider When Suing an Executor of Estate?
When there are multiple beneficiaries to an estate, all the heirs must agree to sue the executor. Everyone must bring any records of what is owed to each person before going to court. Be sure to act quickly, as you might end up losing your chance due to the statute of limitations in your state.
If you sue the executor of the estate, then you and any other beneficiaries will need to agree upon a replacement. The probate judge can offer a replacement executor or you can inform the judge of the new executor. Keep in mind that a hired executor must be paid for their services, which can add up if the estate contains a long-term trust. While a family friend or member (who does not benefit from the estate) can seem like a good choice for an executor, a professional executor can make it more likely that you won’t into other problems with the execution of the will or trust.
All wills and estates vary, depending on the intent and requirements of the deceased, as do state laws. An attorney can help you decide what actions you may have available depending on your unique situation and the state you are bringing the action.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with an Estate Lawsuit?
Estates may involve many assets and issues that an experienced estate lawyer can walk you through. If you are experiencing problems with an executor, you may want to consult an attorney in your area, who is familiar with state laws and accustomed to estate lawsuits.