When Probate Isn’t Finished
At the outset of taking on the responsibility of Executor of an estate, the Executor may feel honored to have such a large and important responsibility entrusted to them. At a time when they must also deal with the loss of a relative or family friend, they also may feel overwhelmed by that same responsibility. Their own lives may become chaotic and the estate matters may be pushed to the side. The estate is then not effectively administered as was required of them, and the estate can remain open for years.
What can be done?
Family members or other beneficiaries can step in and petition the court to remove the Executor and appoint a replacement. The person(s) petitioning the court for removal of the Executor must show cause and proof such as, the unusual amount of time the estate has remained open, property that has never been passed on to the rightful heirs or sold and the proceeds distributed, intentional disregard of the decedent’s wishes regarding burial, the Executor’s incapacity to carry out their duties due to illness or disability, the inability to locate the Executor or the Executor’s resignation.
If the Executor has acted in such a manner that has caused the value of an estate asset to now be worth less than if they had sold the asset or passed it to its rightful heir in a timely manner, the Executor could be liable for paying restitution in the amount of the lost value, plus any attorney’s fees the heir has incurred in order to file a lawsuit against the Executor.
Although this is not a pleasant situation, the heirs must feel comfortable in asking the court for help. Should you expect a mishandling of an estate to which you are a beneficiary, contact our office today to discuss the matter with our estate planning attorneys.