Examples of Executor Misconduct

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“Those unfamiliar with estate planning may have heard the term “executor” and wondered what it meant or did. An “executor” is a self-explanatory term in estate planning; it has no other meaning than the one in the dictionary.”

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Examples of Executor Misconduct

A deceased person’s estate is managed by a court of law or by an executor appointed by the property owner. However, most executors perform their duties in good faith. There are instances when they act, causing severe problems for the estate’s beneficiaries.

This blog post aims to provide examples of executor misconduct, explain it, and explain how to deal with it legally. Let’s start learning about the possible pitfalls associated with estate management and buckle up.


Do You Know What The Term Executor Is All About?

The introduction briefly explained what an executor is. Nevertheless, here we will go deeper into:

  • What an executor is,
  • How an executor functions,
  • Who is the best candidate for a will executor,
  • How to choose an executor for your will,
  • And the relationship between estate planning and an executor.


What is an executor?

When a deceased person dies, an executor must fulfil their wishes and settle their affairs following their passing. In most cases, a person’s death requires the settlement of various legal and financial matters. Before closing an estate, it is necessary to file:

  • The death certificate,
  • Settle funeral expenses and outstanding debts,
  • Distribute assets to beneficiaries,
  • And complete other essential tasks.

This is where an executor comes in. The executor’s legal responsibility is to carry out many of these responsibilities if they serve in the deceased’s last will. When a deceased person does not leave a will or if the will does not name an executor. The court will nominate a person to take care of their affairs.


How do you choose an executor for a will?

In this section, you will learn who you might choose as your executor if you are currently planning your estate. If the individual is over 18, they can be named executor of an estate.

However, a probate court must approve the will before the executor can begin their duties. Executors of deceased persons have the right to handle their affairs by probate, a legal document issued by a probate court.


Will Executors: What to Look for

You can name anyone as the executor of a will, whether it’s your spouse, civil partner, or surviving children. You can even name your stepson or daughter for the job.

To find out in person if the executor can carry out the task, you should inform them individually before you do so. In this case, the next step is to name them as your estate executor in your will. Once the executor appears in your will, you must approve it in the probate court.

A person’s age is also essential to consider before choosing an executor. If possible, you should name someone still alive upon your passing.


Can executor ignore will?

An executor is legally obliged to adhere to the directions outlined within the deed to the best of their abilities. If a will is not followed with a legal basis, it could result in legal consequences since executors have a fiduciary obligation to follow the wishes of the deceased.

In certain instances, circumstances could require a change, like legal challenges to the validity or legality of the will or changes in circumstances making specific provisions impractical or impossible to carry out. Executors should seek advice from a lawyer before modifying the terms of a will to ensure compliance with the law and safeguard themselves from possible legal consequences.


Estate Planning and Executors

Individuals, their families, and beneficiaries must hire an executor when planning their estates. As part of estate planning, an individual’s assets survive, managed, and distributed after they have passed away, and executors play a crucial role in their execution. Executors are generally responsible for managing and distributing the deceased’s assets according to their last will.


Misconduct by an Executor

How to prove executor misconduct? Executive misconduct occurs when someone tasked with executing a deceased person’s estate fails to do so in good faith. Many types of conduct can result in misconduct, such as:

  • Mismanagement of assets,
  • Embezzlement of funds,
  • And making unauthorized distributions.

If an executor is involved in any of these, it usually doesn’t end well for the executor and the beneficiaries. A legal dispute can arise due to such behaviour, leading to delays in distributing assets to beneficiaries. The law, however, regards executor misconduct as a serious offence. And it is possible to take legal action against executors who do so.


California Executor Misconduct Examples

As an executor of a will in California, you have a lot of responsibilities. An executor is a person whose duty is to manage and administer the estate after the death of a loved one. California law places strict limits on an executor’s responsibilities and privileges.

There are times when executors will ignore their duties. This can harm the estate’s beneficiaries, mainly when executors try to enrich themselves or harm the estate.

Attorney Real Estate Group’s attorneys have the legal expertise to hold negligent executors accountable for their failures and protect the rights of abused will beneficiaries when fiduciaries fail to fulfil their legal duties. You can get your loved one’s estate reorganized by filing a will or trust contest and asking the court to replace the executor if you are an abused beneficiary or if your deceased loved one’s estate is being mishandled.

In California, Examples of Executor Misconduct consist of seven common behaviors. We urge you to contact Attorney Real Estate Group as soon as possible. If any of these occur with a California estate, will, or trust in which you have financial standing. For a free initial consultation, explain your legal rights and options. Our litigation team has the experience and resources to handle all matters from beginning to end.


Examples of executor misconduct Texas

An executor is the person nominated to execute the provisions of a will following it made by the deceased person who created the will.

The executor is obligated to fulfill obligations of fiduciary responsibility towards the beneficiaries. This means they must perform their duties with integrity and in the best interest of those beneficiaries. Sometimes, executors are guilty of wrongdoing, which could cause problems for beneficiaries.

A few examples of executor misconduct could be:

  • Engaging in theft, misappropriation, or embezzlement.
  • Infringing on the rights of the trust and beneficiaries.
  • Mismanaging estate assets.
  • Inability to pay estate tax, creditors, or other costs.
  • Refraining from inheritances or causing unnecessary delays in administering the estate.
  • Omitting, hiding or misrepresenting estate assets.
  • The collection of excessive fees.
  • Not obeying court orders.

As you can observe, executors may engage in wrongdoing in various ways. If you are a beneficiary of a deceased estate, it is essential to be aware of possible problems. If you are concerned about how an executor handles your estate, you must seek legal counsel whenever possible.


A California Guide to Estate Administration Misconduct

What are examples of executor misconduct? In California, some of the most common examples of executor misconduct are as follows:


A California Guide to Estate Administration Misconduct


Not filing a will with the probate court.

Those who possess an original signed will file it within 30 days after the deceased’s death with the county’s court of record. Sometimes, people wonder if they must file a will in probate court even if the estate is insignificant. The courts must process most estates, but not all. There is still a yes.

A simplified procedure generally handles wills without the court requiring much oversight. However, it is necessary to file the decedent’s will so that the court can determine if probate is necessary and ensure the decedent’s wishes about the estate’s dispersal.

A beneficiary and executor of a will may disagree with some terms, such as the distribution of certain assets, and fail to file it. A deceased person’s assets will pass according to the laws of intestate succession. This may benefit the executor if they successfully conceal the will and claim they died without a will.

In intestate succession, assets pass to immediate family members in the order stipulated by law. Defending against estate fraud requires proof of the existence of the will through discovery or convincing testimony to the court. Hiding a will is the executor of will fraud, but to prove it, someone would have to know the will existed and be able to prove it.


Inadequate investigation of the estate’s assets and liabilities

As soon as an executor files for probate, their first duty is to determine what the estate has, what it owes creditors, and what taxes it owes. This is necessary to prevent claims against the beneficiaries and ensure all assets remain after paying bills.

An estate may incur penalties and interest on debts if it fails to pay liabilities on time, consuming funds that should go to the beneficiaries.


Inadequate estate management

As soon as the executor accepts the role, all estate assets become their responsibility. Until the will is sold or distributed, each piece of tangible, personal, and intangible property must remain safe and secure. And in good working order, under the executor’s responsibility.

As part of their management responsibilities, executors may need to ensure mortgage or property tax payments, manage investment funds, move boats to dry docks or garage cars, or change locks on the home to maintain control. Besides making arrangements for ongoing services, such as mowing the lawn, the executor must also make arrangements for repairing any damage that occurs, such as a window that has broken in a storm.

In contrast, the executor should cancel any services or subscriptions that are no longer needed, such as cable accounts, as soon as possible. The executor should not personally benefit from selling any assets. Whether they are sold to raise funds needed to operate the estate or if the assets sell at total market value.


Leaving property in a state of disrepair

As a result of the inability to divide a home and the inability to occupy the property by many owners, selling a deceased person’s home is typically necessary to benefit many heirs. There are many other requirements for settling an estate, including cleaning out and selling a home, which can take up to a year.

The executors ensure the property does not lose value before a sale by managing the estate and maintaining the home and grounds. A lawsuit could also be brought against property in disrepair if its condition causes an injury to anyone legally on the property.


Funding estates with personal funds

Executors of wills must record any payments made by or to the estate during probate. Many financial accounts and numerous obligations may be a part of a large estate. To keep estate property and funds separate from their own. Executors should open trusts or accounts for funds the estate will spend or accrue.

An executor’s fiduciary duty forbids the commingling of funds and other estate assets, which would be grounds for a charge of abuse of power.


The executor is not contacting beneficiaries.

Executors of wills are responsible for keeping beneficiaries informed about how they administer the estate and distribute its assets. Upon filing a will for probate, an executor must notify all persons named in the will, as well as the statutory heirs of the deceased. Wills are available to beneficiaries if they have cause to contest it.

The probate court can provide beneficiaries with a copy if the executor does not. A court may grant the executor “full authority” or “limited authority” to act under California’s Independent Administration of Estates Act if an executor fails to inform beneficiaries or get consent.

You can sell specific estate property without informing beneficiaries or obtaining consent. If an executor has full authority, they can sell any property, including real estate, at their discretion. However, beneficiaries must receive notice of the proposed actions in writing. The beneficiary may object to this.

Suppose the beneficiary requests information and documents about the estate administration. They must keep copies of all correspondence. In the case of an unresponsive executor, a beneficiary can petition the court for an order requiring the executor to release particular information.


Withholding inheritance by the executor

Upon completion of the estate’s debts, taxes, and other obligations. If a creditor’s claim fails, they have 90 days to file a lawsuit seeking the money. Creditors in California have one year to file a claim against the estate after the date of the debtor’s death.

Executors are, however, required to carry out the deceased individual’s final wishes, including distributing assets to named beneficiaries, according to their last will. Executor acting fraudulently: if the executor does not follow the will’s instructions or intentionally withholds the beneficiary’s inheritance, the probate court may be able to help.


The Heirs Of An Estate Can Sue The Executor, Can’t They?

Heirs can sue executors for misconduct or any other violation of their fiduciary duties. Heirs can initiate a lawsuit to recover damages to compensate them for the theft if an executor engages in fraud and steals from an estate.

In addition, the heirs (or any other interested party) can petition the probate court to remove the executor under Probate Code 8500. The California Probate Code states that an executor may be removed from office for one of the following reasons:

  • Estate money is underutilized, embezzled, mismanaged, or fraudulently obtained by the executor.
  • There is a problem with the executor’s ability to perform the duties of the office, or there is another reason not to appoint him.
  • A wrongdoing executor has neglected an estate or has failed to perform any executor’s duties for an extended period.
  • In any case, removal is necessary for the estate’s or interested parties’ protection.


Conclusion Of Examples of Executor Misconduct

If you suspect the executor is mishandling estate funds or property, you should act immediately. Executor misconduct is severe and difficult to prove; however, working promptly is essential. Protecting your rights as a beneficiary may be best achieved through seeking legal advice and representation in these situations.

You can contact our experienced team for help if you believe an executor has acted in bad faith and has been dishonest. In addition to specializing in probate matters, we have extensive experience representing executors who have acted dishonestly.

As part of our services, Attorney Real Estate Group can also help you review your assets, provide for beneficiaries in case of death, and select an executor.

Hedy Ghavidel

HEDY GHAVIDEL Managing Attorney  Roseville Office  1-866-471-6981  info@attorneysre.com Bio...

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