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Do you need to challenge the executor of an estate?

There are a lot of things to worry about when someone passes away. Whether it was a predictable passing, such as from a progressive disease, cancer or an accident, there are financial and legal issues that arise after a death. Someone will need to pay off and close accounts, such as utility accounts and credit cards. Then, there's the process of handling the actual estate and distributing assets in compliance with the wishes of the deceased. You may feel like there is less to worry about because the person who passed away left an estate plan or last will. Sadly, that won't prevent serious financial or estate issues.

An estate plan is only as strong as the executor appointed to carry it out. The sad truth is that we are often blind to the worst qualities in the people we are closest to. It's very possible that someone you loved and respected named an unqualified or unscrupulous executor. The person who passed away probably believed that the executor named was the best selection. However, now that it's time to handle the estate, it looks like there are a lot of issues. Whether funds and assets are just disappearing or the executor doesn't seem to know how to handle probate court, you may need to take action.

You can ask the courts to replace an executor

If you have reason to believe that the executor named in the last will or estate plan is not fulfilling his or her duties, the courts may intervene. Probate court can remove an executor who has failed to handle an estate properly. The courts can also name a replacement executor. That individual gets tasked with correcting the issues caused by the previous executor and completing the last wishes of the deceased. Believe it or not, it's actually very common to challenge an executor. Many estates, especially those with a lot of assets, end up in probate court because of how an executor handles things.

Typically, in order to remove an executor, you need some kind of evidence that the executor can't or isn't handling the estate properly. In some situations, public statements like Facebook posts could be used to show an individual intends to profit off of an estate or defraud other heirs. Other times, you may have to carefully review the estate plan or last will and compare it with what has gotten dispersed from the estate. It can be a difficult and protracted process. Unless you contest how the estate is handled, the executor could end up spending, wasting or improperly dividing the estate assets.

Wanting an estate to get handled properly doesn't make you contentious or greedy. It makes you someone who respects the last wishes of the people you love. If you believe an executor isn't doing his or her job, you may need to challenge him or her in court.

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