The executor of an estate plays a crucial role in the probate process. They are tasked with identifying and consolidating assets belonging to the estate for passage to the intended beneficiaries. It means that the executor runs the show for the period the estate goes through probate.
So, what happens when they abuse their position of trust and start misappropriating the estate assets? That is a breach of fiduciary duty, and as the beneficiary, you are likely to suffer the most from this.
How can the executor breach their fiduciary duty?
There are various ways the executor can take advantage of the estate. In some cases, they may be so subtle that it is difficult for the beneficiaries to be aware that something is amiss.
For instance, an executor could transfer some assets under the estate to themselves, or use the money belonging to the estate for personal use. They may also sell some assets below the market value to benefit themselves while making it seem like a legitimate transaction.
Given that an executor is supposed to act in the best interests of the estate and beneficiaries, all these actions can amount to a breach of fiduciary duty.
Here is what you can do
As a beneficiary, you should be involved in the probate process to avoid such instances. Even if you do not have control of the estate’s assets when it is undergoing probate, you can still play an oversight role in ensuring that your inheritance is safe.
Keep a close watch on bank account balances and follow the paper trail of all the estate’s assets. If you notice an anomaly in your executor’s dealings, you need to take action and protect what’s yours.
With evidence to back up your claims, the executor could be changed and ordered to repay back what they took from the estate. However, it all depends on how fast you act; it may be too late to recover anything if you delay raising a red flag.