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When Your Executor Isn’t Meeting Expectations: How to Handle Mistakes in Estate Administration

The executor of an estate plays a crucial role in managing and distributing a person’s assets after they pass away. But what happens when the executor is making mistakes or failing in their duties of estate administration? It’s a delicate and stressful situation, but one that can be addressed legally and ethically. Here’s a guide from our Greensboro probate attorneys. 

Recognizing an Inefficient Executor 

An executor is expected to perform a wide range of tasks, including paying off debts, distributing assets, maintaining property, and filing tax returns. Signs that an executor may not be meeting expectations include: 

  1. Delays in Probate: While some delays are expected, consistent procrastination may be a sign of a problem. 
  1. Lack of Communication: If the executor is not providing regular updates or is unresponsive to beneficiaries, they might be mishandling their duties. 
  1. Financial Mismanagement: Unpaid bills, declining property values, or missing assets could indicate neglect or malfeasance. 

A Challenging Inheritance: The Smith Family Dilemma 

When Mr. Smith passed away, he left his entire estate to his three children, with his oldest son, George, as the executor. However, George struggled with the responsibilities, missing key deadlines and mismanaging funds. The Smith siblings grew frustrated and concerned about their inheritance. 

What You Can Do If Your Executor Is Failing 

  1. Communication: The first step is usually to discuss the issue with the executor. They may not realize their mistakes, or they may be overwhelmed and in need of assistance. 
  1. Mediation: If communication doesn’t resolve the issue, consider mediation. A neutral third party can help navigate the discussion and find a resolution. 
  1. Legal Action: If the executor’s actions are causing harm to the estate, it might be necessary to ask the court to remove them. This is generally seen as a last resort, as it can be costly and time-consuming. 

Resolving the Conflict: The Smith Siblings’ Solution 

After failing to resolve the issue through direct communication with George, the Smith siblings decided to seek the assistance of a mediator. The mediator helped them understand George’s challenges and arrange for additional help to manage the estate properly. This solution preserved their relationships and protected their father’s legacy. 
It’s crucial to remember that every situation is unique. If you’re dealing with an executor who isn’t meeting their obligations, it may be wise to consult with an attorney to understand your rights and options. 
Our Greensboro probate attorneys can provide the advice you need in these challenging situations. Contact our Greensboro law firm at (336) 378-1122 and we’ll help you navigate this difficult process. 

About the author

Dennis Toman

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