Need Legal Advice About the Mishandling of an Estate?
You might not necessarily know the formal name for mishandling of an estate. In legal terms, it is known as a breach of fiduciary duties. For some, it may represent a continuing family feud. In other cases, it might mean that the appointed representative does not have the proper skill set to handle the required tasks.
Let’s start off with some quick basic definitions. An administrator is appointed to the estate when the decedent does not leave behind a will or set up a trust. In a prior article, we explained that this is done in accordance with Texas laws of intestate succession.
More than likely, you already understand the definition of an executor. This is the individual or individuals who the decedent felt most comfortable appointing to handle the proceeds of his or her estate.
And, then there’s the question of trustees. We’ve spoken before about the creation of living trusts as an alternative to the establishment of last wills and testaments.
So, what happens when you suspect the trust or estate’s legal representative is not acting in accordance with law? You should speak with an experienced estate litigation attorney to review your particular situation and determine if legal action is necessary.
Fiduciary Breach Concerns
A fiduciary breach can be considered a betrayal of trust. Notwithstanding, that does not mean that everyone who mishandles estate duties does so with bad intentions. Here are some examples of fiduciary breaches as they apply to trusts and estates:
- Commingled Funds: A trustee has a responsibility to provide an accounting of funds. For this reason, it is crucial to maintain separate accounts. A commingling of assets raises questions of abuse and indiscretion.
- Misappropriation of Assets: Although the will or trust documents say one thing, the executor or trustee may disagree. Additionally, the rules of intestate succession determine how an estate’s proceeds should be divided without a will. Notwithstanding, an administrator may decide to act otherwise.
- Estate Representative’s Inabilities: Unfortunately, there are circumstances where an estate’s legal representative is unable to handle fiduciary duties. If that individual does not agree to a substitute appointment, it may be necessary to pursue a case for removal.
- Conflict of Interest: In some cases, the executor or trustee may have a conflict of interest that requires judicial intervention.
- Failure to Settle Estate: No doubt there are a number of beneficiaries who would like to get their fair share of the estate on a timely basis. An attorney can help determine if the estate’s representative is delaying the process.
- Imprudent Behavior: At any rate, there is always the possibility that the fiduciary representative is not acting in the best interests of the estate. This could mean a failure to reinvest assets. Meanwhile, it could also suggest that the estate’s representatives are using proceeds for personal gain.
Are you concerned that someone has breached fiduciary duties as it pertains to an estate? You first need to know if you are entitled to bring such a claim. The Manfred Sternberg and Associates can assist you. Contact us to learn your legal rights and options!