When one is designated as the executor of an estate, they are given critical duties to handle that include selling estate property and settling debts with creditors. Their actions and decisions can affect the amount of money that heirs will receive under the will.
An executor is considered a fiduciary under the law. A fiduciary owes certain legal obligations to others because they occupy a position of trust. Because of their responsibilities, they are acting on behalf of others who have a financial interest in the estate. There are two primary duties that a fiduciary has:
- The duty of care to use reasonable diligence and prudence to accomplish their duties
- The duty of loyalty to place the needs of the estate before their own interests
If someone breaches their fiduciary duty, they can be held personally liable. If the fiduciary causes losses to the estate, they can be ordered to use their own money to compensate the beneficiaries. However, not every mistake that a fiduciary makes would be considered a breach of their duties.
Given their potential personal liability, an executor should get legal help when necessary, especially when they are facing a potentially difficult situation. Hiring an attorney shows that the executor is taking their duties seriously and acting with prudence.
If you are a beneficiary, and you suspect that the fiduciary has breached their fiduciary duty, you should contact an attorney to review whether you have a potential lawsuit. The fiduciary can be held accountable if they have done something wrong.
Contact a Lincolnshire Estate Planning Attorney Today
The attorneys at Charles T. Newland & Associates work with both executors and heirs on contentious issues that could result in litigation. To speak with an attorney, you can send us a message online or call us at 847.797.9300.