When you go through the probate process after an Oklahoma loved one dies, you may expect a variety of emotions. While you may struggle with grief, court proceedings often cause turbulent disagreements and disputes with the executor. Both beneficiaries and creditors may file lawsuits against the executor under certain conditions.
Fiduciary duty refers to the obligation one party has to act in a different party’s best interest. In the case of a will, the executor has the fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of both the beneficiaries and the estate. They may face legal action for breaching fiduciary duty if they do not.
The executor of the will handles a deceased individual’s estate. That requires an executor to complete these tasks:
• Pay expenses, debts and taxes
• Distribute property according to the deceased’s wishes
• Manage assets
Beneficiaries and executor litigation
If the estate includes more than one beneficiary, all of them must agree to sue the executor before a suit can be filed. Much estate litigation occurs because an executor engages in activities that risks the beneficiary inheritance. Common examples of these activities include:
• The executor mixing estate funds with their own
• Making risky investments
• Achieving personal gain from the estate’s assets
• Incorrect distribution of assets to beneficiaries
• Not following the wishes of the will
• Committing fraud
Beneficiaries frequently file executor lawsuits, but creditors do so as well. An executor must make sure that an estate’s debts are paid before they distribute any money to the beneficiaries. If the executor fails this duty, creditors may seek legal action against the executor.
Results of suing an executor
Probate courts typically respond to legal action by removing the executor and replacing them with someone else. The court may also award damages and hold the executor financially responsible. Criminal actions, such as fraud, may result in jail time.