What if an executor or trustee abuses their power?

On Behalf of | Sep 2, 2021 | Estate Planning

After a person dies, the person appointed as their estate administrator will be responsible for managing and distributing their property and assets. The administrator of a will is called an executor, and the one for a trust is called a trustee. Both of them have to comply with specific duties regarding the deceased’s estate. When they make inappropriate decisions or break the law, they can negatively affect the estate’s value. As this would impact the estate’s beneficiaries, they have the right to ask the court to revoke the administrator’s authority if they make any mistake.

An administrator’s duty

The administrator of the estate has complete control and possession of a deceased’s assets and property. Administrators have this power because they are in charge of managing and distributing the estate between the estate’s beneficiaries. However, distributing the estate is not their only duty. Among the administrator’s duties, some actions require the court’s prior approval. Some of the things that the administrator can do without giving notice of it to the court are:

  • Transfer property under certain circumstances
  • Pay taxes and assessments with the property
  • Pay expenses incurred in the collection, care and administration of the estate
  • Sell property
  • Make repairs and improvements to real and personal property of the estate

The administrator must inform the court about other actions related to the estate, especially if the actions in question benefit them in any way. For example, an action that can benefit an administrator is if they sold or transferred some of the deceased’s property to themselves.

Breach of duties

The administrator must act in the best interest of the estate and its beneficiaries. If the administrator makes inappropriate decisions with the estate or fails to inform the court about specific actions, those with an interest in the estate can ask the court to remove them from their duties. Those with an interest in the estate can be the beneficiaries or a creditor.

Removal of an administrator

After an interested person asks the court to remove the administrator, the court will determine if they had a reasonable cause to ask for the administrator’s removal. If the court finds a good reason, they will make an order revoking the full authority of the administrator. This provision in the law allows beneficiaries to fight back when an administrator takes advantage of their position. After all, the deceased had trusted them with their estate, and they must face the consequences if they break that trust.