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What if an estate executor hasn’t properly handled their duties?

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2022 | Estate & Will Appeals, Estate Administration, Probate Litigation |

Beneficiary disputes can arise for many reasons, one of which is if the estate executor doesn’t properly handle the tasks and duties that are presented to them. The beneficiaries may feel that the process is unfair or even illegal, and this can lead to a dispute between them and the executor.

This can become complicated, especially when the executor is another family member who is also a beneficiary. For instance, someone who had three children may just choose the oldest child to be their estate executor, and the younger two are beneficiaries. Everything is supposed to be divided between the three, but those two may take issue with how their older sibling works through this process.

What types of disputes may happen?

There are a lot of different disputes that could occur, such as the beneficiaries saying that the executor is not properly following the will. This could be due to a conflict within the document. For instance, a life insurance beneficiary designation overrides a will. So the estate executor may find that only one person is supposed to receive the life insurance, but the will may say that the money should be divided between all three people.

A dispute could also arise if the other beneficiaries feel like the executor has improperly accounted for the inventory. One of their first tasks is simply to gather the assets that can then be divided. But could the executor be tempted to take some of these assets from the family home and not report them, thereby not dividing them properly with their siblings? This could be a form of theft or fraud. The siblings may also claim that the executor altered the will or created other fraudulent documents and attempted to benefit themselves.

In other cases, there isn’t even that much at stake, financially speaking. But the beneficiaries may be unhappy with how things have been handled in terms of items with sentimental value. This is often where siblings wind up arguing because they all want specific assets that hold that sentimental value, and these things cannot be divided up.

What can you do?

If you believe that the executor has acted improperly or if you’ve started a dispute over the job that they’re doing, then it is very important to know about all the legal options that you have.