What Counts as Negligence in the Handling of an Estate?

Law Blog

One of the worst things that can happen with an estate is to see an executor or administrator mismanage it to the point of negligence. If you're wondering if an executor has reached the threshold of negligence, it's worth learning what an estate litigation lawyer would likely say about your situation. Here are three reasons an estate litigation attorney might conclude you have a negligence case.

Failure to Maintain Properties

A basic duty of an executor in cases involving physical properties is to see that they're maintained. It's normal for an executor to need months or even years to fully sort out the different issues with an estate. Even something as simple as finding and notifying a beneficiary can get complicated if the person has fallen out of contact.

Over time, it's understood that a property might develop some physical issues. For example, the basement could flood or the foundation may develop cracks. The executor is expected to use funds from the estate to maintain any properties that await transfer to a beneficiary. If they knowingly fail to do so, that's negligence.

Likewise, if they fail to take a reasonable interest in checking up on the property, that may be negligence, too. The executor should at least occasionally send someone to see that the property is still in good condition. Similarly, the executor should document these checkups with receipts, reports, or photos.

Mismanagement of Funds

An estate usually includes a certain amount of money. The executor has a fiduciary duty to see these funds are preserved as much as possible so beneficiaries will receive them. Normally, an executor will place the money in a low-risk account, such as a money market fund.

They can reserve and use a portion of the estate's funds for administrative costs, investigations to find people, and maintenance. However, they should take reasonable steps to not overspend. Also, they should avoid higher-risk strategies for managing the money, such as investing it in the stock market.

Failure to Execute Acts From the Decedent's Will

An executor is responsible for executing all practicable acts outlined in the deceased's will. If the decedent included a latter for delivery to one of the beneficiaries, for example, the executor should make every reasonable effort to get it there.

The law understands that not all acts are executable. However, the executor also has a duty to document which acts were not possible and what efforts they made. If you think the executor of your loved one's will was negligent, contact an estate litigation lawyer for help.  


4 January 2021

File Chapter 7, and Keep Your Home

Many people assume that when they file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, they will have to give up their homes and other property. This is not necessarily the case. I am a bankruptcy attorney, and I have helped many clients file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy without giving up homes, cars, and other property. When you file for bankruptcy, the property you are allowed to keep depends on your individual circumstances and the state where you live. Most states allow exemption for property you are currently paying for. This blog will guide you through that information and help you determine if filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the right choice for you.