How an estate’s executor may breach a fiduciary duty

How an estate’s executor may breach a fiduciary duty

On Behalf of | May 7, 2022 | Fiduciary Representation |

An executor named in a will or appointed by the probate court owes a fiduciary duty to manage an estate by following the deceased’s instructions. SmartAsset.com reports that an executor’s responsibilities include notifying heirs of the estate and informing them of their inheritances.

Beneficiaries must receive full disclosure of material facts regarding the deceased’s estate and the probate procedures. Executors must also work quickly with the probate court to distribute assets to beneficiaries. A duty is also owed to keep and maintain accurate records. Failing to complete these activities may result in beneficiaries holding a fiduciary accountable for breaching a duty.

Estate representatives must adhere to their assigned duties

As noted by the American Bar Association, an estate’s personal representative must act in the sole interests of the deceased’s beneficiaries and creditors. Fiduciary duties generally include controlling and preserving an estate’s assets. During probate, the executor must contact the deceased’s creditors to settle unpaid debts and file an estate’s tax return.

As noted by the ABA, common fiduciary breaches include self-dealing and misappropriating assets. Providing beneficiaries with inaccurate information or failing to disclose the use of entrusted funds may constitute negligence. When an estate’s personal representative uses the deceased’s property for personal gain, a breach of duty occurs.

A breach of duty may result in a legal action

Under the Texas Property Code, beneficiaries may hold fiduciaries accountable for profiting from their positions. Estate representatives may also face legal action for failing to carry out the deceased’s wishes in the manner intended.

An estate’s personal representative may take on a range of highly demanding tasks and complex duties. If allegations of improper behavior or a breach of duty arise, a strong defense could help prove no wrongdoing occurred.