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Can executor inaction cause legal problems?

Can executor inaction cause legal problems?

On Behalf of | Mar 20, 2020 | Probate Administration

If your family has chosen you to be an estate executor, you should understand how to perform your duties so that you do not run into any problems with estate beneficiaries. If you handle the job well, the estate heirs will likely not cause you any problems. However, some executors have gotten themselves into trouble by not acting when they should.

Forbes explains how executors may run into trouble. Some executors mishandle or delay performing their duties, which usually causes estate beneficiaries to suspect something is wrong. They may even go to court to petition a judge to remove the executor from the position.

Failure to act

Some executors do nothing. They receive the appointment, hear from their attorneys, and then fail to act. They may lack the confidence to handle details, or they may not have the drive to move matters forward. If your family wants you to be an executor, you should take stock of your ability to handle the duties of the position before agreeing to take on the job.

Ignoring beneficiaries

Executors have a fiduciary duty to beneficiaries. For this reason, executors should not ignore beneficiaries even if they think the beneficiaries are being a pain. In general, beneficiaries want to know their inheritance is safe and that they can expect their inheritance in a reasonable amount of time. You as an executor should be ready to communicate with beneficiaries and keep them updated on recent developments.

Legal ramifications

As explained previously, beneficiaries who feel an executor is not working to their benefit may try to have a court remove the executor. A court may hold an executor accountable in other ways. Depending on how an executor acts or fails to act to prevent loss to the estate, a court may hold the executor personally liable and require the executor to pay damages.

The possibility of legal trouble is why executors often seek legal counsel for assistance. In many cases, an executor who understands how to perform the job does not encounter problems from beneficiaries, resulting in a successfully closed estate and distribution of assets.

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