Executors are responsible for handling an estate’s assets. When it comes to estate administration, this may involve the settling of debts, the payment of taxes, and distributing assets to named beneficiaries. The role of an executor is important, which is why executors owe other interested parties a fiduciary duty.
Simply put, a fiduciary duty requires an executor to act in the best interests of other parties. If an executor fails to act in the best interests of others, it may be a breach of fiduciary duty and legal action may be necessary.
An honest mistake or an intentional violation?
Most executors are family members or someone else who was close to the person who died. As such, most people are usually new to this role and may not understand all of their obligations. This inexperience and lack of understanding can lead to unintentional mistakes. If a mistake results in some type of harm, it should be remedied as soon as possible. However, a mistake is unlikely to rise to the level of a fiduciary breach.
On the other hand, if an executor engages in an intentional violation, such as an intent to defraud beneficiaries, it’s a breach of fiduciary duty.
It might be up to you to demand accountability
Executors do not operate without any type of oversight. There are court reporting obligations. However, a judge may not always catch all instances of wrongdoing. If you are concerned that an executor is not operating above board, you should seek legal advice. A skilled professional can help explore your options and determine the right path forward.