An executor’s job is to carry out the will, meaning he or she will execute the will and handle the estate of the deceased by carrying out their wishes. This can include paying debts and taxes and distributing the assets to the beneficiaries in accordance to the instructions of the will. It is the responsibility of the of the executor to do these things in a timely manner, and act in the best interest of the beneficiaries.
But what happens if the executor isn’t doing their job? Can they be removed from their position? There are many things you should do if you find that the executor isn’t doing their job properly.
Know the Timeline to Settle an Estate
When a loved one passes away, you probably start to wonder how long it takes between the time the will is read and when you will get your inheritance. It depends on how complex the estate is, and the process can take anywhere from a few months to a few years. The executor can only disperse the assets of the estate after the property is evaluated and all the debts and taxes have been paid. The executor can be held personally liable if the inheritances are paid first and there isn’t any money left to cover debts and taxes.
Determine If You Have a Case
You should first try talking to the executor about your concerns. If that doesn’t work, you may have to take legal action.
To have an executor removed from an estate you need to be able to show that they are not living up to their responsibilities of their job or that they are doing something that isn’t legal. The court may remove an executor for the following reasons:
- They are no longer eligible because they have been convicted of a felony after being named executor
- They are no longer suitable because they have a conflict of interest
- They have failed to carry out the wishes of the deceased or they haven’t done anything at all
- They mismanage the estate by stealing from the estate or wasting assets
The executor must commit a serious infraction for the court to act. Taking a long time to settle the estate is not considered a serious infraction on its own. It must be in addition to one of the examples above. In most cases, you must wait a little longer to get your inheritance.
Seeking Legal Recourse
If you believe that the executor is not living up to their duties, you have two legal options: petition the court or file a civil lawsuit.
Beneficiaries can petition the court to have the executor removed from their positon if they can prove they should be removed for one of the reasons listed above. The court will have a hearing where the parties involved can tell their side of the story. Afterwards, the court can remove the executor and appoint another one if they find just cause.
Your other option is to file a civil lawsuit against the executor if you can prove that you have suffered due to their actions, or lack of actions. For instance, this would be an option if the executor has stolen money or failed to protect the assets of the estate. There is always a chance you will be able to settle before ever seeing the inside of a courtroom.
No matter where you are in the process of settling an estate, you need to speak to a qualified estate planning attorney if you have any concerns at all. At Sherer Law Offices, our attorneys will advise you and guide you as to what to do if you find yourself in this difficult situation.