Losing a loved one means that a lot of changes will come about. You will need to learn to live your life without your loved one around, which can be particularly difficult if you had a close relationship. If you did have a close relationship, you likely anticipate receiving something from your loved one’s remaining estate.
If the executor of the estate evades your questions about how the probate process is going or when certain steps in the process will be complete, you may wonder whether he or she is acting appropriately. As a beneficiary, you have a right to know what is happening during the probate process. If the executor seems evasive, wrongdoing could be taking place.
The executor has access to the estate’s assets in order to pay final bills, pay funeral expenses and distribute assets when the time comes. However, not all executors act in an upstanding manner. Though they have a legal obligation to act in the best interests of the estate and the beneficiaries, executors could use estate funds for personal gain or mishandle assets in other ways, which can cause damage to the estate and the beneficiaries.
You may worry that your loved one’s executor is acting inappropriately if you notice physical assets missing without any explanation from the executor about where they went. While the executor does have the ability to sell assets not bequeathed to specific individuals, the funds obtained from the sales should be distributed in accordance with the will. If the executor takes those funds for him or herself, you may have reason to take action.
What can you do?
If you believe that the executor of your loved one’s estate is stealing from the estate and have evidence to support your claim, you may have reason to petition the court for an accounting from the executor. The court may require the executor to provide documentation about what actions he or she has taken as well as an inventory of the estate. If discrepancies exist, the court will likely remove the executor.
If the situation resulted in losses to the estate and you or other beneficiaries, you may have reason to take further legal action against the executor. It may be in your interests to gain information regarding your options for removing an executor and seeking compensation for damages from an experienced Seattle attorney.