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How do breaches of fiduciary duty happen?

On Behalf of | Mar 29, 2024 | Probate & Estate Litigation |

Probate is the process of sorting out a dead person’s affairs and personal items. These include actions such as paying debts and dividing their assets among heirs.

Sometimes, the executors who are in charge of these tasks do not do their job correctly, causing a breach of fiduciary duty. This could lead affected beneficiaries to seek fair compensation.

Managing the estate poorly

One bad choice during probate is not handling the dead individual’s assets properly. The executor needs to keep all items and properties safe, pay off any debts and give out the assets according to the dead person’s wishes. However, if they fail to finish one or more of these steps or knowingly make poor decisions, a breach of fiduciary duty happens.

Facing conflicts of interest

Another issue occurs when executors have a conflict of interest. For example, if the executor is also a beneficiary of the estate, they could prioritize their own financial gain over the fair distribution of assets to other beneficiaries.

Additionally, if they are friends with some of the heirs but not all of them, they might treat their friends better than the rest of the beneficiaries. This can lead to serious disagreements among family members and is also a breach of fiduciary duty.

Failing to communicate

During probate, the executor needs to keep everyone involved up to date on what is going on. Breaches of fiduciary duty can occur when executors fail to communicate effectively with beneficiaries, withhold important information or make decisions without consulting them. This raises concerns about the motives of the executor.

If executors do not do their job right during probate, they may get removed from their role or have to pay back money. Beneficiaries and loved ones can also feel a large amount of stress when dealing with this executor during the process of mourning.