Executors have a good deal of authority as they administer an estate, but that does not mean they have unquestionable authority. The law requires them to always act in the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries when performing their roles. In other words, an executor owes a fiduciary duty to both.
An executor must always act honestly, in good faith and with due care and diligence in all their dealings regarding the estate. For instance, an executor cannot:
- Divert estate funds for personal use
- Go against the instructions of the will or other estate documents
- Misappropriate estate assets
- Dispose of estate assets below their market value
- Deliberately delay the probate process
In short, an executor must not do anything that could harm the interests of the beneficiaries.
What happens when an executor breaches their fiduciary duty?
If you notice a suspicious transaction or other fraudulent activities by the executor, it is necessary to get to the bottom of it to protect your inheritance.
An excellent place to begin would be gathering relevant evidence of the breach of fiduciary duty. Bank statements, receipts and other financial records can help prove executor misconduct.
Next, you need to bring it to the probate court’s attention for intervention. It is possible to relieve an executor of their duties if they are found to have acted in bad faith when discharging their duties.
Taking prompt action immediately after you notice an executor is mishandling the estate could help avert a potential disaster. Therefore, it is in your best interest to seek informed guidance on what you need to do to hold an executor liable and recover what has been lost due to their actions and prevent further losses.