Naming a personal representative is often an important part of creating an estate plan. Your deceased loved one likely chose someone whom they trusted for that position. If they didn’t name someone, then the court will appoint a representative for the estate.
Most of the time, the person who fills this role will do so carefully. However, occasionally, they engage in behavior that forces the beneficiaries of the estate to challenge their position. When might you need to take action against the representative of an estate?
When they have failed to initiate probate
Timely action is crucial to good estate administration. From the quick notification of creditors to limit accruing balances to filing paperwork with the probate courts, there is much the personal representative must do.
Major delays in estate administration can impact the value of assets and lead to other compliance issues. Family members may have to challenge a representative who does not handle their responsibilities in a timely manner.
When they make mistakes or conduct transactions for personal gain
The personal representative of an estate ultimately has control over the assets that beneficiaries will inherit. Mistakes in how they manage those assets could substantially diminish the value of the estate overall or of individual assets.
The same is true of misconduct by the personal representative. They should always put the needs of the estate first. If they seek to profit off of their position as the personal representative, that may open them up to challenges brought by family members.
When they fail to follow the terms of the estate documents
Sometimes, a personal representative won’t act in their own best interests but will still violate their duty to the estate and its beneficiaries. They might impose their own preferences on how they distribute assets or let their personal history with estate beneficiaries affect how they elevate property.
When the representative of an estate handles it improperly or tries to profit from their position, probate litigation may be necessary to protect your inheritance. Recognizing when you need to initiate probate litigation can help you minimize the impact of an incompetent or unethical estate representative.