When Can I Sue an Executor?

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When Can I Sue an Executor?

When someone dies, an executor is charged with overseeing the distribution of someone's assets according to the will or state inheritance laws if they die without a will, explains, AOL’s recent article entitled, “When Can a Beneficiary Sue an Executor?”

An executor is someone who is appointed either through a will or by the court to oversee the probate process.

An estate beneficiary is a person named in a will to inherit assets from someone else. Beneficiaries and heirs may be the same individuals or different people. A beneficiary is typically named in a will or trust. An heir is a person identified by state inheritance laws as having the right to receive assets from an individual's estate. Heirs are typically the decedent’s spouse, children and other relatives. A beneficiary’s rights include the following:

  • Receive assets from the estate of the deceased person that they're entitled to according to the terms of their will or state law promptly;
  • Request and receive information about the administration of the estate, including financial details; and
  • Ask for the removal of an executor.

Beneficiaries also have the right to sue the executor if they think there’s a breach of fiduciary duty, which requires executors to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries or other persons they represent in financial matters. For a beneficiary to sue an executor, they have to have grounds for doing so. This includes:

  • Failing to provide beneficiaries with financial statements regarding the estate when you request them
  • Delaying in the distribution of assets without any legal reasoning for doing so
  • Appearing to favor one beneficiary over another when distributing assets
  • Mismanaging or misusing estate assets for their benefit
  • Making risky investments with estate assets
  • Failing to meet financial obligations associated with the management of the estate; and
  • Having an obvious conflict of interest because they're also a beneficiary of the estate.

Reference: AOL (March 20, 2023) “When Can a Beneficiary Sue an Executor?”

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