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When someone dies, their executor is their legal personal representative. This means that executors step into the shoes of the deceased person when the deceased person has passed away. They have all the power.
However when executors behave badly and act out, what options are really available to beneficiaries?
Executors have an obligation to administer the deceased person’s estate and distribute the estate within a reasonable time period. You may have heard of the executor’s year. Generally speaking, executors have a year from the date of death to administer and distribute the deceased person’s estate. In some cases, for example in cases involving complex estates, a year is not enough time to finalise the administration of the estate and a longer time period is considered reasonable.
There is also some contention as to when the executor’s year begins – is it a year from the date of death or a year from the date when Probate or Letters of Administration is granted? This is debatable in the case law. The executor’s basic duties are to collect the deceased’s assets, pay any estate liabilities and distribute the deceased’s estate in accordance with the deceased’s Will.
If they fail to do this, then beneficiaries can bring an administration suit and seek orders from the Court. For example, if an executor has not distributed the deceased’s estate and the deceased died many years ago, beneficiaries can approach the Court to seek orders to have the executor removed and to appoint another executor or an administrator to finalise administration and distribution of the deceased’s estate.
Similarly, if an executor has been stealing funds from an estate, beneficiaries can take action. They can approach the Court to seek orders that an executor be removed from their position.
Beneficiaries can also request that executors pass and file estate accounts. This will help beneficiaries reconcile all funds that have gone in and out of the deceased’s estate.
As you can see, executors have a lot of power when it comes to administering and distributing a deceased person’s estate. However when they act out, beneficiaries do not have to put up with it and they can take action.
If you have any questions about executors behaving badly, please call our experienced team of solicitors on 1300 168 676. We can provide a free case assessment to you and answer any queries that you have about executors.
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