The executor of your loved one’s California estate has a fiduciary duty to that loved one’s estate. If that duty is breached, you may have grounds to take legal action against the executor. This may be true whether the breach was intentional or unintentional. There are a few different remedies available if a judge agrees with your claims.
Breaching the fiduciary duty
There are many ways in which an executor might breach this duty such as failing to file a final tax return or taking money out of the decadent’s personal account for any reason. Stealing from the estate would also be an example of taking action that isn’t in the estate’s best interest. If an executor has a conflict of interest, that could constitute a breach even if the estate representative didn’t intend to do anything wrong.
The executor can be removed
One of the options that a judge has in a lawsuit against an executor is to appoint someone else to oversee the estate. If the will lists an alternate executor, that person would likely be appointed. If the alternate is unwilling or unable to serve, the judge may appoint someone who is most likely to act in good faith toward the estate.
The executor could be held liable
It’s also possible that estate litigation could result in the executor being held personally responsible for their actions. For instance, if the executor stole money from the estate, an order may include restitution equal to the amount taken. Additional punishments may be included depending on the severity of the estate representative’s actions.
Taking legal action against an executor may create conflicts between family members, even if you feel that your claims are valid. Therefore, it’s important to weigh the potential benefits of holding an executor accountable and possibly fracturing relationships with people you care about.