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When you may need to sue an executor

On Behalf of | Feb 23, 2023 | Estate Administration, Estate Litigation, Estate Planning

When a loved one passes away in New York, their estate is often administered by an executor responsible for managing the deceased’s assets, paying off their debts and distributing their property to the heirs. In some cases, however, the executor may act in a way that is not in the best interests of the estate or its heirs. If this occurs, it may be necessary to sue the executor.

Breach of fiduciary duty

Executors are fiduciaries, which means they have a legal obligation to act in the best interests of the estate and its heirs. If an executor fails to fulfill this duty, they may be sued for breach of fiduciary duty.

Mismanagement of estate assets

Executors manage the estate’s assets, including selling property and investing funds. If an executor mismanages these assets, estate litigation may be necessary.

Failure to distribute assets

Executors are also responsible for distributing the estate assets to the heirs. If an executor fails to distribute assets promptly or fairly, they may be sued.

Conflict of interest

Executors may have a conflict of interest if they stand to benefit from the estate or have personal relationships with some of the heirs. If an executor fails to disclose a conflict of interest, they can be sued for breach of fiduciary duty.

Fraud or theft

In some cases, an executor may engage in fraudulent or criminal activity, such as stealing assets from the estate. If this occurs, the executor may face criminal charges.

How to sue an executor

To sue an executor, you will need to file a lawsuit in probate court. The lawsuit should outline the specific actions of the executor that you believe were improper and provide evidence to support your claims. You will also need to show that you have been harmed by the executor’s actions in some way, such as by not receiving the assets you are entitled to.

If the court finds your favor, the executor may be required to pay damages or take other actions to correct the harm they caused. Sometimes, the executor may be removed from their position and replaced with a new executor.

Protecting your interests

Suing an executor can be a complex and challenging process. If you believe that an executor has acted improperly, you may need to take action to protect your rights and the interests of the estate and its heirs.