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What constitutes an executor breach of fiduciary duty?

On Behalf of | Jun 24, 2024 | Estate Planning

An executor of a will has significant responsibilities during probate. Some of their duties include asset management, debt and tax payment and distribution of the estate to the beneficiaries as specified in the will. 

While an executor is in charge of administering the estate, it does not mean they can do as they please with the estate assets. Executors owe the estate and its beneficiaries a fiduciary duty. It means they must act in the best interests of the estate and those who stand to benefit from the will. Unfortunately, not all executors uphold this duty.

Common breaches of fiduciary duty

An executor’s breach of fiduciary duty occurs when they fail to fulfill their obligations as required by law. This can take various forms, including:

  • Asset mismanagement
  • Stealing estate assets
  • Self-dealing for personal gain
  • Failure to communicate 
  • Unnecessary delays in the distribution of assets to beneficiaries

As a will beneficiary, such misconduct by the executor can have undesirable financial consequences. You risk losing your inheritance or getting less than you are entitled to. As such, it helps to understand your rights and take informed action to protect your interests.

What can you do about it?

The first thing you should do if you notice any red flags in the executor’s dealings with the estate is gather relevant evidence. Request detailed information and updates from the executor about the estate’s administration. You may petition the probate court to compel the executor to provide such information if they are reluctant to do so.

It can help you explore viable remedies like suing the executor to hold them accountable and possibly recover your losses.