When an estate is going through probate, the executor administers everything, from consolidating assets to paying off debts. Essentially, the estate is under their control.
However, an executor cannot do as they please with the estate. The law requires them to act in the best interest of the estate and its beneficiaries.
What is an executor expected to do?
All the decisions an executor makes on behalf of the estate should benefit its heirs. Generally, an executor should:
- Act honestly, fairly and reasonably
- Be transparent with the estate transactions
- Not be biased and treat all beneficiaries equally
- Act in good faith when dealing with the estate
When an executor goes against their fiduciary duties, you should take action to protect your inheritance before it is too late. Delaying or waiting for the probate process to conclude before taking action can make it impossible to recover any lost or misappropriated assets.
Your options in the face of a rogue executor
If you discover anomalies in the executor’s transactions with the estate during the probate process, it is important to bring it to the court’s attention. When doing so, it is advisable to have evidence to back your claims, such as bank account details or other financial statements. A beneficiary has a right to ask for a record of the transactions involving the estate from the executor.
If it is established that the executor was fraudulent or stole from the estate, it is possible to instigate recovery actions against them. They may be relieved of their duties. In some cases, an executor could be criminally liable for their actions.
Be involved in the probate process
Do not assume that everything is running smoothly, even when it seems so on the outside. It is crucial to safeguard your rights by getting immersed in the entire process and keeping the executor in check. It’s wise to seek legal guidance.