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What can you do if the executor breaches their fiduciary duty?

On Behalf of | Jan 28, 2022 | Estate Planning |

An executor is a person charged with administering an estate according to the owner’s wishes after they pass on. It is a position of trust since they virtually control everything. But, what if they are not acting according to your loved one’s instructions?

If you suspect that the executor is not acting in your best interests as the beneficiary of an estate, here is what you need to know.

With power comes responsibility

The executor may have control over the estate, but it does not mean they can act as they please. Legally, they owe you a fiduciary duty, and they should administer and pass on the estate to the best of their ability. However, if they act out of self-interest or are negligible in discharging their duties, it may amount to a violation of the fiduciary duty.

Such instances may include:

  •     Paying themselves excessive fees
  •     Misusing or wasting money that belongs to the estate
  •     Stealing
  •     Selling assets at throwaway prices
  •     Failing to disclose the existence of some estate assets
  •     Ignoring court deadlines for filing documents
  •     Not paying the creditors on time, among others

All these can negatively impact the inheritance due to you as the beneficiary, and you need to take action before it’s too late.

What should you do?

You can bring a breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit against them. To win your case, you need to show the existence of a fiduciary relationship, a violation of the duty, and the harm it caused you. Remember that you need to have solid evidence of your claims for a desirable outcome.

Once it is established that the executor breached their fiduciary duty, they may be relieved of their role and ordered to surrender or refund the illegal proceeds.