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Has an executor breached his or her fiduciary duty?

When individuals create their estate plans, they typically name a person to be in charge of the affairs that will need handling after their passing. This person is usually referred to as the executor and will address the final tasks of the estate as it goes through the probate process.

Your loved one may not have named you as the executor of his or her estate, but you did not have a problem with that. However, you do have concerns about how the current executor is handling his or her duties. In fact, you may think that he or she is not acting appropriately.

Fiduciary duty

When a person is in a position of responsibility in which he or she must act in the best interests of another individual, that person has a fiduciary duty. In the case of probate proceedings, the executor has a fiduciary duty to the estate. He or she has an obligation to act in a trustworthy and honest manner when it comes to settling the affairs of the estate, which includes keeping beneficiaries informed of the progress of probate.

The executor also has the responsibility of following the instructions that the decedent left behind in a will and other estate planning documents. If the executor does not follow these instructions, creates unnecessary delays in the probate process, misappropriate estate funds or tries to shut out beneficiaries, he or she may be breaching this fiduciary duty.

Betrayal of trust

When an executor or other fiduciary breaches his or her duty, a betrayal of trust has taken place. You and other beneficiaries may understandably feel concerned about what will happen to your loved one's estate if the executor is not acting responsibly. Fortunately, you can take action. A breach of fiduciary duty is an illegal act, and you may have reason to take legal action to have the executor removed for inappropriate actions.

It can be complicated to remove an executor from his or her role, but if evidence exists that a breach of trust has occurred, you may be able to move forward with a case. In order to gain more information on this option, you may want to consult with a Pennsylvania probate attorney. This individual could assess your concerns and determine whether you have cause to pursue legal action against the current executor of your loved one's estate.

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