If your loved one left behind a will, their estate must go through probate, a court process that validates the legality of the will and administers the distribution of the testator’s assets. Usually, the personal representative appointed in the will or by the probate court is responsible for administering the estate during probate.
Some of their responsibilities include consolidating and appraising all the estate’s assets, conducting transactions on behalf of the estate, and settling any creditor claims or other outstanding estate debts like taxes, before distributing the estate to its beneficiaries.
A lot could go wrong during probate
While probate is supposed to be a smooth process, various things could go wrong. In most cases, it has something to do with the personal representative.
For instance, they may neglect their duties in the probate process, misappropriate or mismanage estate funds or even withhold the inheritance. Either way, the beneficiaries suffer the most since they cannot take over their portion of the estate until probate is finalized.
What can you do about it?
Fortunately, the personal representative is not above the law. They owe the estate’s beneficiaries a fiduciary duty, and they must always act in the estate’s best interests. Should the personal representative of your loved one’s estate engage in misconduct, you need to act.
With sufficient evidence of wrongdoing by the personal representative, the probate court can relieve them of their duties and even order them to repay what they have taken from the estate.
If you’re worried that something is going wrong with your loved one’s estate and that the executor has committed some major errors, find out more about your legal options.