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Questionable behavior of an executor

Posted by Anita F. O'Meara, Esq. | Feb 03, 2022 | 0 Comments

In some cases, choosing an executor may be similar to rolling dice. You may be taking a chance. Executors have a great responsibility in settling an estate. This is why great thought and consideration must take place when selecting one.

Sometimes, though, the chosen executor may turn into a nightmare. Misconduct, sloppy work, oversights and questionable behavior may lead to their removal and even legal action.

Neglecting duties and playing favorites

You know you have a negligent and irresponsible executor if he or she does any of the following:

  • Fails to provide regular updates: It is the legal duty of an executor to inform heirs on matters related to the estate and probate process. Communication is essential. Heirs need to know any developments, especially ones that affect them.
  • Neglects duties: The responsibilities for settling an estate are many and must be completed in a timely fashion. They include finding heirs, dealing with investment companies and the Social Security Administration, taking inventory of assets and paying outstanding debts and taxes. The executor must have solid organizational skills.
  • Plays favorites: Currying favor with a particular heir is disgraceful. The executor has the fiduciary duty to serve all heirs. A probate judge may promptly remove an executor who does this.
  • Overlooks personal liability: An executor becomes personally liable for not fulfilling the necessary duties. In not doing so, this person faces a lawsuit for breach of fiduciary duty.
  • Self-dealing: This happens when an executor puts his or her own interest first, ignoring the interests of the estate. An example is when an executor transfers assets from the estate to himself or herself.

Such actions or inactions are all grounds for removing an executor. If you see such signs, make sure to do what is in the best interest of the estate.

Be proactive in removing executor

Sometimes, the person who you thought was organized, reliable and honest turns out to be the opposite in the executor role. When heirs become dissatisfied with an executor's actions, they must try to change that, and, in some cases, remove that person from this critical role in the probate process.

About the Author

Anita F. O'Meara, Esq.

PRACTICE AREAS: Estate Planning, ADministration and litigation, and Commercial litigation Biography:  Anita Fulwiler O'Meara concentrates on providing estate planning and probate services throughout Southeaster Pennsylvania, including Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, and Montgomery, counties, wit...


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