The executor of a will has a responsibility to carry out the final wishes of the deceased. This includes significant duties and an expectation for honest, diligent and responsible decision-making. When an executor breaches those responsibilities, it may constitute executor misconduct.
There are a few common occurrences that typically qualify as misconduct on the part of an executor.
Misappropriation of assets
When an executor takes assets from the estate for their own personal benefit, that is executor misconduct. This includes actions such as diverting funds, selling assets for their own gain or using estate assets to pay their individual debts.
Executors must manage and administer the estate efficiently and promptly. Failure to properly inventory and safeguard assets, delaying asset distribution without cause and not filing necessary legal documents all qualify as executor misconduct.
Conflict of interest
If an executor’s personal interests oppose their obligation to act in the best interest of the beneficiaries, this is a conflict of interest. Executors must ensure that the decisions and actions do not disproportionately favor their interests.
An executor must manage the finances of the estate responsibly. This includes making sound investment decisions and avoiding unnecessary expenses. Any irresponsible financial decisions that cost the estate could be executor misconduct.
In the aftermath of a loss, it is important that you can trust the executor of the estate. The Survey of Consumer Finances reports that approximately 50% of beneficiaries from college-educated families expect or already received an inheritance. When you understand the executor’s responsibilities, you can better protect that inheritance and the value of the estate.