There is no doubt that one of the most difficult things someone may ask you to do is to accept the duties as executor of an estate. Often, those tapped for such responsibilities have little or no experience, and they may find the job tedious, time-consuming and overwhelming. You may have been relieved when your parents designated one of your siblings to manage the estate. However, things are not going as you expected.
Handling estate matters for a deceased parent is a tremendous responsibility, especially when there are siblings or other heirs in line to benefit from the assets. An executor has a serious duty to protect the estate as it goes through probate, which often takes several months to a year. While your sibling had many options for seeking assistance with his or her duties, if he or she failed to do so, you may be losing trust in your parents' choice for executor of their estate.
Common breaches of duty
There may be many factors at play, and each one makes the situation even more awkward. Your parents have died, and your sibling is handling the estate. You don't want to make this all about money, but you can't avoid the fact that your inheritance is in jeopardy. Perhaps you are noticing any of the following in your sibling's actions as executor:
- Neglecting to properly gather and inventory the assets
- Failing to keep the estate's valuables secure
- Allowing people not named in the will to take assets
- Distributing assets in opposition with your parents' will
- Distributing assets before the estate's creditors have been paid
- Attempting to increase the value of the assets by investing them or gambling with them
Your sibling may have mishandled any real estate included in the estate, such as your parents' home. In some cases, an executor may, without California court authorization, spend estate money on home improvements to increase the resale value of the home. On the other hand, your parents' executor may have failed to properly maintain the home, resulting in its depreciation or even damage, such as if a pipe burst or the roof leaked.
While representing an estate through probate is a heavy burden, it is not an excuse for poorly managing the assets to the detriment of the heirs. If you suspect your sibling is mishandling his or her duties, you may have many questions about what you can do and how to proceed. As difficult as it may be to consider legal action against a sibling, you have every right to protect your best interests and to seek an advocate who will do the same.