The death of a loved one can already be a difficult time for everyone involved. If the executor appointed under a will is not administering the estate properly, that only adds to the difficulties. Fortunately, beneficiaries can address this issue in several ways.
Working with an Existing Executor
If the executor of the will has not responded to informal requests to administer the estate properly (e.g. a polite conversation clearly stating specifics about how the estate should be handled), you might want to consider the following options:
Option #1: A good first step is to send a formal demand letter to the executor asking to perform his or her duties as required. The letter may be sent by a beneficiary or by an attorney engaged by the beneficiary.
Option #2: If a demand letter does not suffice, you can then request that the executor be removed from the position. The person who raises the issue may be eligible to name himself or herself to the position or ask that the successor executor be named to the position.
A judge may appoint an independent executor of the estate while any matter is pending before the court. The extent to which the original executor did not perform his or her duties will determine how long it takes to conclude any legal action against that person. At the end of any legal action against the executor, the person who initiated the action may request reimbursement of legal fees from the estate, subject to the court’s finding that the action was initiated in good faith.
Naming Your Own Executor
Part of the prudent preparation of a will is to name an executor whom the testator can trust to fulfill his or her last wishes. The estate planning attorneys at TuckerAllen can help formulate criteria that would be used to select an executor. Our attorneys can also draft a basic will or other documents that are appropriate for the client’s situation, and can help with the estate administration and probate process.