After someone dies, the property they leave behind becomes an asset of their estate. It can be any type of asset, including land, homes, jewelry or money. A will determines how those assets are distributed. To administer the estate, an executor is appointed by the court, usually designated by the decedent in the will. The executor is then charged with making sure the deceased’s wishes are carried out by distributing the property and paying applicable taxes and bills.
Anyone who is the executor of a will must follow the directives laid out in the will. If you are the beneficiary of a will and feel that the executor is not administering the will properly, you can sue the executor to obtain the property that is due to you. Family members can also ask the court to remove the executor if he or she is failing to uphold the duties of the role.
What would constitute a failure of duties? The simplest example would be if your uncle left you his classic car, but your cousin, the executor, refuses to give you the car because she believes it should be hers. You have a right to sue for the vehicle. Disputes, however, are not always as clear as this example. Perhaps the executor wants to be faithful to the deceased’s wishes, but he has a hardship, like caring for an ailing parent. His desire and need to care for the loved one do not leave a lot of time to deal with the estate. In this instance, you may have a case to sue for a new executor even though there is no malicious intent.
In order to bring a lawsuit, there are burdens of proof that will need to be presented to the court:
- Failure to pass accounts
- Fraud or misconduct
- Endangering the assets – bad investments or record keeping
- Conflict of interest
- Hostility to family members or those named in the will
- Failing to pay taxes on the estate
If you are noticing any of these failings in the executor of a loved one’s estate, you can file to have the courts remove him or her and name a new executor. However, will disputes are complex and should not be handled without an experienced attorney by your side. We can help you decide on the best course of action in an estate dispute. Call the attorneys at Gaslowitz Frankel today for a free consultation.
Gaslowitz Frankel LLC is Georgia’s premier fiduciary litigation law firm. The firm has earned a reputation for excellence across Georgia and the Southeast by providing representation to individuals, executors, trustees, investors, shareholders, and financial institutions in complex fiduciary disputes involving wills, estates, trusts, guardianships, businesses, and securities.