An executor in California has a fiduciary duty to adhere to the terms of the will in conformity with the law. Above all, they have to act in the best interest of the estate and its beneficiaries. If your executor doesn’t meet these obligations, you can sue them for damages.
People that can sue an executor in California
An executor is a person or entity with the legal right to carry out the will of a deceased person, known as the testator. This means their contract or loyalty lies with the estate and its beneficiaries. Therefore, only people named in the will and creditors of the estate may sue the executor for their breach of fiduciary duty in California. However, there are special circumstances where family members or other people may have standing to sue or even challenge the will.
Grounds for suing an executor in California
An executor in California has several specific responsibilities which, if breached, can be cause for legal action. These include:
• Failing to pay off debts and taxes
• Misappropriating funds or property from the estate
• Making investments without consulting beneficiaries
• Exercising bias in decision-making regarding the distribution of assets
• Failing to file documents with the probate court in a timely way
How to file a lawsuit against an executor in California
Estate litigation in California begins when the interested parties (people with the right to sue the executor) file a Petition for Breach of Fiduciary Duty in the probate court. The petition must identify the facts that support the claim, such as evidence of misappropriation or fraud and any other relevant information that might be helpful in court.
The probate judge will issue a summon to the executor, giving them thirty days to respond. If they don’t meet this deadline, the court may issue a default judgment in favor of the petitioner. And, if there is sufficient evidence that the executor breached their duty, the probate court can hold them liable for damages.
It’s important to remember that filing a lawsuit against an executor in California is a serious and costly venture, but that shouldn’t stop you if they infringe on your rights. In any case, it’s always wise to understand the probate laws and how the process works to protect your interests and the estate.