What Are Common Types of Executor Misconduct
We entrust executors with the authority to administer our estates or those of our loved ones. That trust and authority come with a significant duty, a responsibility to respect the wishes of the deceased and legally honor the rights of the beneficiaries. Not all executors are created equally, and not all have the best interests of the deceased and their heirs at heart. Below, we discuss some of the more common types of executor misconduct that we have observed in our practice. If you have concerns about the conduct of the executor of your loved one’s estate, or if you have any questions about estate planning or probate, speak with an experienced Illinois estate planning & probate attorney.
Misappropriation of Funds
The quintessential executor misconduct occurs when an executor tries to steal assets from an estate. Executors are meant to be neutral parties who do not have a stake in the game; they should not be beneficiaries. Unscrupulous executors have been known to transfer titles to properties without authorization, use estate funds to invest in their own properties or companies, take estate funds to pay their own expenses or give themselves unreasonable compensation, or otherwise misappropriate estate funds or assets. If you have any reason to suspect that an executor is skimming off the top or otherwise misusing estate funds or assets, speak with a probate attorney immediately to protect your inheritance.
Failure to Pay Creditors, Taxes, and Other Expenses
Executors are responsible for ensuring that all of an estate’s finances are in order. Illinois law dictates how estate debts must be paid, and failure to follow these rules can land an estate in a lengthy legal battle, diluting and draining assets that would have been preserved if the process had been efficient and proper. If creditors, especially the government, have to challenge the administration of an estate in order to get repaid, everyone is likely to suffer.
Executors are meant to blindly and neutrally carry out the wishes of the deceased, in accordance with the provisions in a will or trust. Some executors may try to withhold inheritance from a beneficiary for personal reasons, due to a vendetta or as a form of punishment for some perceived slight. Executors are legally obligated to comply with the terms of the will or trust, and they do not have the discretion to deviate.
Mismanagement of Real Estate and Other Assets
Executors are responsible for ensuring that the property of the deceased remains well-cared for. That duty extends to the management of funds and other intangibles, as well as the management of real estate and other physical assets. Some executors fail to gather and ensure the management of all of the assets in a timely manner after the death. They may let real property fall into disrepair, mismanage personal funds with improper or risky investments, or otherwise lose funds or assets that should have been preserved and protected. Negligent executors can be just as harmful to an estate as deliberately fraudulent or malicious executors.
Contact a Seasoned Illinois Probate and Trust Administration Attorney
If you are facing issues regarding probate or the administration of a trust, will, or other estate matter in Illinois, get professional and detail-oriented legal help by contacting the Chicago trust administration lawyers at Pluymert, MacDonald, Hargrove & Lee in Hoffman Estates at 847-310-0025 and in Des Plaines at 847-298-5030.