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Examples of Executor Misconduct

Heirs’ worries regarding the behavior and actions of executors are some of the situations that frequently arise during estate settlement. We always advise consulting an expert lawyer if you observe an executor acting irresponsibly or dishonestly. An experienced estate lawyer can advise you on the best actions to safeguard the estate’s assets and properties from executive misconduct.

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Probate Attorney

Examples of Executor Misconduct

What is a will’s executor?

The person overseeing the probate procedure for a deceased person’s estate is an executor. The executor is often chosen by the deceased and specified in the will. The court may also appoint one.

The role of an executor starts as soon as the testator passes away. Their duties include:

● Generating an inventory of all of the decedent’s assets and properties;

● Listing all the beneficiaries;

● Settling any outstanding estate debts;

● Selling estate property if the will allows;

● Distributing all liquidation proceeds among the decedent’s beneficiaries and heirs.

Executors have a fiduciary obligation to the beneficiaries and should therefore act with the utmost good faith.

Who may serve as the estate’s executor?

Anyone aged 18+ who isn’t found incompetent by court order may serve as an executor in the state of California. Usually, someone from the deceased’s family, relatives, or friends is chosen. However, some people prefer to pick unbiased outsiders to carry out their wishes to avoid conflict within the family.

There is also no restriction on the will’s beneficiaries acting as executors. They actually frequently do. Despite the seeming conflict of interest, this typically does not result in any issues because the will specifies the executor’s duties.

Executor misconduct

An executor typically oversees an estate with the utmost competence and honesty. Sadly, not all estate administration is carried out efficiently. Misconduct typically results from actions or pursuits over which the executor has significant influence. This could entail self-dealing, where an executor uses the estate for their own financial gain. Other times, an executor may neglect their responsibilities or simply fail to follow state law’s requirements. Examples of executor misconduct include:

The misappropriation of estate funds

This is classic executor misconduct. Executors should always put beneficiaries first. However, untrustworthy executors have been known to change property titles without permission, invest estate money in their own properties/ businesses, utilize estate money to cover their bills, pay themselves excessive salaries, or engage in other forms of asset theft. If you detect misappropriation of funds by an executor, speak to an attorney about ways to protect the estate properties and assets. Dishonest executors risk punishment if they steal from an estate. These penalties may include imprisonment and having to return or refund the misappropriated property.

Failure to settle taxes, debts, and other expenses

Executors are in charge of putting an estate’s finances in order. According to state law, specific procedures should be followed when paying estate obligations. Failing to do so can cause an estate to become embroiled in a protracted legal dispute, depleting assets that would’ve been saved if the correct procedure had been followed. The beneficiaries will suffer if creditors and the government sue an estate for debts.

Refusing to transfer an estate

Executors are responsible for carrying out the deceased’s wishes according to their last will and testament. Some executors may attempt to withhold rightful inheritance from a recipient out of spite, malice, or retaliation for some perceived offense. This is a deviation from the will’s terms and, therefore, illegal.

Mismanaging estate properties and assets

When someone passes away, there is always a lot of confusion. The executor should ensure the estate’s assets and possessions are protected during the funeral preparations, or else they could start to disappear due to misuse or theft.

This obligation relates to both the management of tangible and intangible assets. Some executors do not promptly assemble and oversee the maintenance of all the deceased person’s assets. They can neglect to maintain the real estate, mismanage their finances by making unwise or dangerous investments, or otherwise lose money or assets that ought to have been conserved and safeguarded. Careless executors can ruin an estate just as much as those who are malicious or purposefully deceitful. You can sue an executor for any property/asset mismanagement, including depreciation.

Mixing up the estate’s funds with personal funds

Executors can open a bank account for their estate to move money, sell assets, make investment decisions, and withdraw cash for taxes, debts, and other expenses. However, they cannot withdraw money for their own use, to sell a property for their own benefit, or to stash assets beyond what the will allocates to them.

Even beneficiaries who are also executors are not permitted to take money out of an estate account for personal use. They have to hold off until the money gets distributed once the court grants an application for its distribution.

If an executor is mixing estate funds with their own funds to create confusion and stash away some of the estate funds, you can take legal action and have them removed.

Taking too long to sell estate property

While California’s probate procedure typically lasts 1-2 years, it might take longer if the estate affairs are complicated. Usually, an estate with a simple will and no problems can be settled in about a year. On the other hand, difficult tax situations, pricey assets, objections to the will, sluggish legal procedures, and other obstacles might lengthen the process.

However, if you believe an executor is intentionally dragging the estate settlement process, you should speak with a knowledgeable probate litigation attorney immediately. If the executor is unwilling to put in the time and effort necessary to settle the estate and transfer your inheritance quickly, you can file a petition to have them booted.

Wrap-up

The difficult responsibility of dispersing the decedent’s estate and ensuring that all necessary debts are settled and all legal requirements to close the estate are met falls on the executors’ shoulders. Although they have a wide range of jurisdictions and considerable discretion, they do not have ultimate control over the probate courts.

Per rules on inheritance theft, an executor may be ordered to restore property they’ve misappropriated, neglected, or lost; in extreme cases, they might even be removed from the position. However, this is only possible through probate court. It’s always wise to employ the services of an experienced attorney to help during the process. If you have concerns regarding the executor of your deceased’s estate and want to take legal action, reach out to us. We’ll be glad to provide guidance.

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Examples Of Executor Misconduct - What To Know!

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ADDRESS

Hess-Verdon & Associates, PLC
620 Newport Center Drive Suite 1400
Newport Beach, California, 92660
Office: (949) 706-7300 
Toll Free: (888) 318-4430

Copyright © 2022 Hess-Verdon, PLC. All rights reserved. The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. The verdicts and settlements listed on this site are intended to be representative of cases handled by Hess-Verdon & Associates, PLC. These listings are not a guarantee or prediction of the outcome of any other claims. The information contained on this website is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for such advice. State and federal laws change frequently, and the information in this article may not reflect your own state’s laws or the most recent changes to the law. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney.

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We are excited to be able to offer 501(c)(3)’s the ability to accept charitable remainder trusts
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Hess-Verdon & Associates, PLC
620 Newport Center Drive Suite 1400
Newport Beach, California, 92660
Office: (949) 706-7300 
Toll Free: (888) 318-4430

Copyright © 2022 Hess-Verdon, PLC. All rights reserved. The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. The verdicts and settlements listed on this site are intended to be representative of cases handled by Hess-Verdon & Associates, PLC. These listings are not a guarantee or prediction of the outcome of any other claims. The information contained on this website is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for such advice. State and federal laws change frequently, and the information in this article may not reflect your own state’s laws or the most recent changes to the law. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney.

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