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Do you believe an executor has breached fiduciary duty?

The loss of a loved one can have different effects on each person. You may feel a sense of acceptance and closure, or you could feel that you have unfinished business with the deceased that you may need to address somehow. In the latter case, some people may feel a continued sense of loyalty to their deceased loved ones, and as a result, they may feel particularly interested in ensuring that the final wishes of those individuals are honored.

In order to carry out the instructions of a will, a named executor or appointed personal representative must follow the proper legal steps to validate the will and begin the probate process. If your loved one named someone else as executor, you may want to trust that person to act in a trustworthy manner. However, you may have some concerns about his or her actions.

How are estate funds spent?

The executor of the estate should gain access to the remaining funds. This access may be necessary for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons include:

  • Handling debts -- The executor must pay any creditor claims against the estate and any outstanding balances for open accounts that the decedent had at the time of death.
  • Making payments -- Certain payments may also fall to the executor to address, such as funeral and burial expenses.
  • Filing taxes -- Even after a person's death, the IRS requires a final tax return, and the executor must pay any final taxes.
  • Asset distribution -- In the event that the deceased bequeathed items to other individuals, the executor will also have the duty of ensuring that the proper beneficiaries receive their intended items and funds.
  • Paying him or herself -- The executor typically is entitled to some form of compensation for taking on the necessary tasks, and this payment may come from estate funds.

Other actions that need the use of estate funds may also need carrying out. However, if you feel that the executor has breached his or her fiduciary duty by misusing estate funds or other actions, you may wonder what you can do to address the issue.

Taking legal action

During the probate and estate administration process, you may have the option to file any complaints with the court and potentially pursue litigation if you have standing and grounds to do so. Taking this action may help you ensure that your loved one's final wishes are properly handled and that the executor is held accountable for his or her actions.

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