An executor is a person named to manage the estate of a person who has died. The executor is responsible for several tasks, including:
- Taking an inventory of estate assets
- Paying debts for the estate
- Recovering money owed to the estate
- Distributing assets to beneficiaries
The person named executor of an estate has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the estate’s beneficiaries. When the executor doesn’t do act in good faith, the heirs of the estate have a legal right to take action.
Reasons For Removing An Executor
There are several circumstances in which an executor can be removed. If the executor:
- Fails to file an inventory within 90 days of receiving letters testamentary
- Fails to provide proper accounting
- Misappropriates funds from the estate
- Mismanages estate assets
- Has a conflict of interest in managing the estate
Executors are largely unsupervised by Texas probate courts. For the most part, this works as a benefit to the heirs of the estate. It means the probate process is faster and cheaper. However, this lack of oversight also makes it easier for an unfit executor to misuse his position.
If it’s suspected that an executor has breached a fiduciary duty, one of the first options is to file a request with the probate court to get any motions, applications, or other pleadings filed in regard to the estate. There may be fees associated with this filing, so it’s important to check with the court handling the probate proceeding.
If it has been 15 months or longer since the appointment of an executor, the next step may be requesting an accounting of the estate. This means the executor will need to report to all those who have an interest in the estate (heirs) details such as what debts have been paid, what property has been distributed, what property is still in possession of the executor, and other information about the condition of the estate.
This accounting often answers most questions that an heir might have about how the executor is handling his duties. If it does not, or if the information indicates a breach of fiduciary duty, then the heirs should get legal help.
If you are an heir to an estate and believe any of these conditions exist, contact a Houston probate litigation attorney today.