Mar 18, 2015

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Executors under Probate Law

The role of the executor of an estate is to make carry out the will of the deceased when it comes to the disposition of possessions and property. In most instances, the executor is someone with legal or financial expertise because the administration of an estate entails many legal and financial tasks, although law does not require it. Because it can take a lot of time to execute a will, the executor is typically entitled to a commensurate fee, and executors are authorized to spend money to pay for debts, taxes, funeral expenses, insurance premiums, operational costs of the estate, and other financial obligations the deceased may have left behind. They are also authorized to sell assets that have not been specifically willed to someone. This access is in place until such time as probate ends. However, they have no authority to appropriate any property or cash for their personal benefit.

Unfortunately, it is very easy for an executor to abuse their position of trust, and this is a breach of their fiduciary duty. The only way to determine if this has happened is to have a regular accounting of all proceeds and expenses made in a given period. Concerned parties may also request the probate court to demand an accounting from the executor if they suspect the executor of wrongdoing. The court will then investigate, and if it finds the executor to be in breach of fiduciary duty, the court will revoke the access and assign someone else to be the executor.

But what of the money that has already been stolen?

This is where a Chicago probate lawyer can come in handy. The probate court will not be get involved in this but beneficiaries of the estate can file a separate lawsuit in civil court against the executor for breach of fiduciary duty. To get their money back as well as court expenses, the plaintiffs will have to prove that the executor had betrayed knowingly and willfully the beneficiaries’ trust. However, there is a statute of limitations for bringing a civil action for breach of fiduciary duty, so it is important to file a case as soon as possible. Consult a probate lawyer in your area to find out what you need to do.

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