Those who agree to become trustees or executors usually do so because they care about the decedent and their relatives. When allegations of misconduct such as breach of fiduciary duty arise, it can be extremely disheartening for them.
In addition to feelings of betrayal, the person must also face legal hurdles while fulfilling their administrative duties. It may seem like you have few options to assure those who accused you that you have done nothing wrong. However, in the state of California, you have the right to defend your administrative actions as a trustee or estate executor.
On what grounds can someone sue a trustee or executor?
No one such as a creditor can sue you personally to recover debts from the estate. However, beneficiaries or the deceased’s family may be able to take legal action against you if they feel you did something wrong while performing your duties. Examples of when a beneficiary or other party can take legal action against you include.
- Failure to file or pay estate taxes properly
- The withholding of assets from a trust
- Failure to make proper estate distributions
- Self-dealing or the co-mingling of your funds with estate funds
- The premature distribution of estate or trust assets
- Overcompensating yourself for your trust administration duties
- Criminal conduct such as embezzling from a decedent’s estate
- The loss of property from the estate
When accusations like these arise, you must take them seriously and protect yourself against such claims. One of the first steps to take if someone targets you in a legal setting is to explore your defense options. It is also wise to improve your understanding of how probate and trust administration works in California.