An estate executor usually has a lot of leeway on how to take care of an estate and handle the probate process. However, this doesn't mean he or she can do whatever he or she pleases. Here are four mistakes that can put an executor's position in jeopardy:
1. Showing Bias to Some Beneficiaries
The executor is legally obligated not to take actions that may benefit some beneficiaries at the expense of others. He or she must comply with the requirements of the probate process and take actions that preserve the estate's assets. It is wrong, for example, for the executor to start distributing assets to a beneficiary in need (even if his or her need is genuine) before the probate process ends.
2. Benefiting from the Estate
Just like the executor shouldn't benefit some beneficiaries at others expense, he or she shouldn't use the estate to benefit himself or herself. In fact, accounting for the estate's assets is one of the integral stages of the probate process. Just because the executor is in charge of the process, and has some leeway in managing it, it doesn't mean he or she can take some extra assets.
3. Denying Beneficiaries Information
An estate's beneficiaries have a fundamental right to access certain information relating to the decedent's estate. For example, a creditor has the right to know how much the estate owes him or her according to the estate's records. A beneficiary also has the right to know what to expect from the estate. An executor makes a grave error if he or she withholds such information.
4. Unnecessarily Delaying the Probate Process
Lastly, it's also wrong for the executor to delay the process unnecessarily. Just know what may seem like a delay to you may not be an actual delay. Probates take different durations in different states. However, different factors such as court hearings may delay the process, which doesn't mean that the executor is to blame. You can only accuse the executor of unnecessary delays if his deliberate actions/inactions cause the delay.
Anybody with an interest in a decedent's estate, such as a creditor or a beneficiary, has the right to petition for the removal of an executor who breaches his or her duties. If the petition succeeds, then the court will name a new executor to handle the process. For more information about your role in this process, contact resources like Wayne E Janssen Atty.