When someone you love passes away, the legal process of settling their affairs can be enormously stressful and upsetting. The parties charged with these responsibilities must take them seriously and make decisions in the best interests of your loved one.
If you feel that an executor is not doing this, you should know your options.
Disagreement or breach of duty?
It is important to understand that disagreeing with an executor’s decisions does not mean they are doing something wrong.
For instance, you may not like how they distribute assets or how long the process of getting money or property is taking, but that may not necessarily be the fault of the executor.
A decedent’s wishes and best interests trump what you may think should happen. And unfortunately, the legal process can be slow and complicated, meaning some delays and setbacks could be out of the executor’s hands.
That said, people in this role may not be prepared or well-suited to fulfil the duties of an executor, meaning they may make poor decisions and mistakes. Inexperienced or unfit executors could be accused of breaching their duties by:
- Mismanaging assets
- Making bad investments
- Neglecting their duties
- Failing to close accounts
- Wasting money
- Acting in their own best interests
- Failing to get help from legal and financial professionals
These mistakes can have a financial, legal and emotional toll on you and others affected by the estate administration process.
If you know or suspect an executor is breaching their duty, you can take action. Depending on the allegations against the executor, potential measures can include:
- Demanding a financial accounting of estate-related transactions
- Requesting better or more consistent communication
- Petitioning the courts for removal of the executor
- Mediating disputes
- Suing the executor
Exploring your options with a lawyer on what might be right for your situation sooner rather than later can minimize losses and stop misconduct.
It is painful enough to cope with the loss of a loved one; feeling that an executor is improperly managing the administration of their estate only makes things more stressful. Hopefully, knowing that there are ways to address these concerns can help.