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3 ways the executor of an estate could fail in their duties

On Behalf of | Oct 22, 2021 | Estate Planning |

Serving as the executor of an estate is a difficult job, and you may feel grateful that someone else willingly accepted that role after someone you loved died. Knowing there is someone to manage your loved one’s assets and debts can give you space to grieve.

Whether it is your sibling or your aunt handling the estate, their actions as executor will have a direct impact on what the beneficiaries of the estate eventually receive. Sometimes, executors fail in their duties and thereby diminish what beneficiaries receive.

Family members may have to initiate probate litigation to protect their inheritance if an executor doesn’t do their job properly. What kind of executor mistakes might negatively affect your inheritance rights?

They fail to take important steps

One of the most common and most damaging mistakes an executor can make is to delay fulfilling their duties. For example, if there is real estate in the estate, the executor might fail to secure the property, leading to teenagers or vagrants damaging the real estate.

The executor might fail to turn off accounts that continue accruing more charges after the testator dies. What they might even fail to notify creditors of the death, leading to growing debt and large claims against the assets in the estate.

They undervalue or mishandle the estate assets

Sometimes, an executor’s responsibilities will include selling assets to distribute their value among multiple beneficiaries. Unfortunately, executors may fail to get the fair market value for valuable property like fine art, vehicles or real estate, thereby diminishing what the beneficiaries inherit. They might also fail to properly handle or manage the assets, which could also reduce their value.

They use estate assets for personal benefit

The executor of an estate has a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the estate that they manage. That duty requires that the executor put the needs of the estate or the beneficiaries above their own wishes. When an executor embezzles from the estate or engages in insider dealing for their own benefit or the benefit of their family, they may do so at the expense of the beneficiaries.

Recognizing mistakes and misconduct that could influence what you eventually inherit from an estate can motivate you to initiate probate litigation challenging the executor’s behavior or their role.