If you are an heir or beneficiary of an estate, and believe the Executor is not fulfilling their responsibilities you may have a right to challenge their actions in probate court.
An Executor owes certain duties to the estate. The main responsibilities of an Executor are to act in good faith and in the best interest of the estate, marshal the assets (collecting all assets to be distributed), paying all the debts of the estate, and preserving assets for the benefit of the beneficiaries.
In order to have standing to challenge the Executor’s actions you must first have an interest in the estate. That usually means you are an heir or beneficiary of the estate. If you are not a named beneficiary in the Will, an heir according to intestate laws (statutory law used when there is no Will), or a creditor of the estate, you may not have the ability to challenge the Executor’s actions.
If you feel that an Executor is not acting in a manner that best benefits the estate or that they are not performing one of their responsibilities properly, you can request an accounting or inventory of the estate. An accounting is usually a good first step.
The accounting will give you a better idea of what the assets and debts of the estate are, and will allow you to see where the monies of the estate have been spent.
If after reviewing that information (or if nothing was provided) you feel there is wrong doing on behalf of the Executor you can file a petition with a court to challenge the Executor. There are a number of thing the court can do, including removing the executor from their position. It is important to note, that an Executor’s action must be serious and damaging to the estate to be justification enough to warrant a removal.
Once you file a petition challenging the Executor and requesting their removal, the court will set a hearing date. At this hearing, each side will have their opportunity to present their side of the story, and you will be able to request that the Court grant your requests that were made in your petition.
This is a very complicated situation and in order to be successful at this type of hearing we strongly encourage you to hire a competent probate attorney to represent you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
Disclaimer: The information above is provided for general information only and should not be considered legal advice. Our probate lawyers provide legal advice to our clients after talking about the specific circumstances of the client’s situation. Our law firm cannot give you legal advice unless we understand your situation by talking with you. Please contact our law office to receive specific information about your situation.