The executor of a will has a substantial amount of responsibility during the probate process in Connecticut. In addition to filing court paperwork and taking care of tax issues, the executor is also responsible for managing the assets of the estate and making certain that the deceased’s property is cared for until it can be transferred to heirs or beneficiaries at the close of the probate process.
If an executor starts making mistakes and cannot live up to obligations, there are processes in place for an executor to be removed so the court can appoint someone new. If the executor’s actions are considered a breach of the executor’s fiduciary duty, this could also lead to personal liability for the executor.
Nirenstein, Horowitz & Associates provides representation to executors during the probate process to try to help avoid mistakes so executors do not face legal risks. Our Connecticut probate lawyers also provide representation to heirs or beneficiaries who are concerned their inheritance may be in jeopardy as a result of an executor’s mistake. To find out more about the ways in which our legal team can assist you during the probate process, give us a call.
Most Common Mistakes Made by Executors
Executor errors are common, and the Wall Street Journal explains the biggest mistakes made by executors during the probate process. Common mistakes include:
- Paying bills too fast. Executors may just start immediately paying bills in the order the bills come in. This could lead to problems if money is needed later in the probate process, such as to pay estate tax. Debts need to be prioritized, as paying the wrong bills first could be a breach of fiduciary duty.
- Trying to play the stock market with the deceased’s investments. Executors should be focused on protecting and preserving assets, not making risky bets with the goal of growing wealth.
- Not handling real estate properly: Executors could make lots of mistakes when it comes to real-estate handling, including making bad choices about whether to pay for property improvements before estate property is listed for sale.
- Losing assets: The executor has to keep the estate assets safe. If someone, even a family member or potential heirs or beneficiaries, is taking assets, the executor has to stop that behavior. Executors need to make a full accounting of estate assets and keep track of the assets during the probate process.
Nirenstein, Horowitz & Associates can help executors to avoid these mistakes and other common errors that could have an adverse impact upon an inheritance.
What Happens if an Executor of a Will Makes a Mistake?
If an executor of a will makes a mistake, the appropriate course of action is going to depend upon the consequences of the error and the executor’s ability to correct it. In some cases, an executor can just fix the problem and everyone moves on.
In other circumstances, however, mistakes could be indicative of the fact that the executor of an estate is not up to fulfilling the tasks the executor is responsible for during the probate process. If this is the case, Connecticut Code Section 45a-242 explains when and how an executor can be removed and replaced for cause.
An executor can be removed for failure to execute his responsibilities; neglecting his responsibilities; and wasting the estate he is in charge of. An executor may decide to voluntarily resign, or the probate court could take action. If the executor of an estate is removed, the court will appoint an estate administration or personal representative to oversee the estate during the remainder of the probate process.
In some cases, an executor’s actions could be considered a breach of the fiduciary duty imposed upon the executor. If the actions of the executor were a breach and financial loss happened as a result, heirs or beneficiaries could potentially make a legal claim against the executor to try and hold the executor personally financially responsible for losses.
Getting Help from A Connecticut Probate Lawyer
Nirenstein, Horowitz & Associates has provided assistance to many executors during the probate process so the chances of a mistake can be substantially reduced and an executor of a will can ensure he or she properly fulfills his role in protecting the wishes of the deceased. Our legal team also advocates for heirs or beneficiaries throughout the probate process, providing advice to those who stand to inherit and taking appropriate legal action on their behalf when problems arise with the executor of an estate.
To find out more about the probate process and the role of the executor in Connecticut, join us for a free seminar. You can also give us a call at 860-548-1000 or contact us online to speak with an experienced attorney about your situation.