What are the Fiduciary Duties of an Executor of an Estate?

When a loved one passes away, a family member may be appointed in the decedent’s will as the “Executor” of the estate. This person has a fiduciary duty to make sure that each beneficiary receives the share of the estate that is bequeathed to them. As a fiduciary, the Executor may not put himself or herself above the interests of the beneficiaries. If they are found to breach this duty of loyalty, civil and/or criminal penalties may follow. Therefore, it is imperative to have an attorney ensure that these duties are being met during the administration of an estate.

Executors commonly breach their fiduciary duties as they relate to real property in an estate; they have an obligation to maintain the real property in an estate to ensure that it does not fall into disrepair. Another aspect of estate administration that might cause problems for an Executor is the requirement of an accounting. Generally, the Executor has six months from appointment to prepare an accurate inventory of items in the estate. This is necessary to ensure that nothing of value is hidden from creditors, that one party has not unfairly taken a piece of property belonging to the estate at the expense of other beneficiaries, and that the wishes of the testator may be fully carried out.

Even the closest families can be torn apart by problems that arise in the management of an estate. At The Law Offices of Seidner & Associates, we have helped many fiduciaries manage estates. To speak to a Trusts and Estates attorney about your matter contact our office today for a free consultation.