Learn Important Probate Essentials, including key things that go wrong in an estate, how to prevent them, and what to do if they happen.
What happens when an executor or administrator has gone silent and despite your best efforts will not communicate with you. You’ve called. You’ve sent letters. You even tried certified mail. And yet, you receive no response. You begin to get a little suspicious. Why would the executor or administrator not respond? Are they hiding something? So, what can you do at this point? Are you just out of luck?
Fortunately, there are a number of different things you can do to force the executor or administrator to respond. Below, I have outlined four of the most common options that will allow you to understand what is going on with the estate, so you can find whether there is anything to be concerned about. While there are many other potential options, these four are more common.
First, a warning. The strategies below are aggressive and require court action. For that reason we strongly recommend that you attempt them only with the assistance of a qualified probate law firm. For some of them, if you mess them up, you may not get another chance. We’re providing this information as general information only.
Before embarking on any kind of court action, it is a good idea to try to work things out peacefully through letters, phone calls, and in person meetings. For the purpose of this article, we will assume those efforts have been tried and failed.
The first strategy is to make a formal request for an accounting by filing a petition with the probate court. This will request that the court order the administrator or executor to make a full account of all assets of the estate, and to show what has come into the estate and what has gone out, and to whom.
Second, after one year has passed, a beneficiary or heir may file a petition with the probate court to order the administrator or executor to make distributions, if no distributions have been made.
Third, if there is evidence that the executor or administrator has engaged in some kind of wrongdoing or has breached a legal duty he or she owes to the beneficiaries or heirs, then a petition for removal may be filed with the court. A petition for removal does exactly what it says – it is a request that the Probate Court remove the executor or administrator from office and appoint a new person in his or her place.
Finally, fourth, if the executor or administrator’s actions are particularly bad, it may be worth it to pursue him or her for breach of fiduciary duty. This type of claim would be a lawsuit filed against the executor or administrator (either before or after he or she is removed from office) seeking damages for harm that the executor or administrator caused to the estate.
Each of these options has various pros and cons, and we strongly recommend that you engage the services of a qualified Georgia probate attorney before attempting to embark upon any of them. Depending on your situation, one of these solutions could be best, or there could be other options that are a better fit.
Disclaimer: The information above is provided for general information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice is specifically tailored to your particular situation. Please contact our office to receive specific information advice about your situation.
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