Time. Each state has laws defining the rights of beneficiaries. But you don't have to manage it all alone. include favoring one beneficiary over another, poor asset management and failing to provide a beneficiary with documentation that he or she has a legal right to receive, to name a few. My sister and I are the only beneficiaries of the … In addition to these concrete tasks, the executor owes the deceased and her beneficiaries a fiduciary duty to act in good faith at all times and for the benefit of the estate and its beneficiaries. Some states require an executor to post a bond upon appointment, which acts as insurance for the estate from losses he may cause. When an executor for a will is selected, they agrees to act in the best interest of the estate and to follow through with the decedent’s wishes when it comes to the beneficiaries. If they become concerned that the executor is taking money from the will, they need to act quickly in order to preserve their inheritance. Be prepared to escalate quickly, however, as this confrontation may just alert the executor that he needs to accelerate his efforts to siphon off the money. What if I am named as an executor and don’t want to do it? How Trustees Steal From Trusts During Trust Administration One of the primary purposes for creating a trust is to ensure that a person’s assets are well taken care of after he or she passes away. If you suspect theft from an estate, you may hire a forensic accountant … If you suspect that the executor is stealing or otherwise not properly fulfilling his duties, you can request that he obtain a bond. We are not a law firm, or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The simple answer is, we try to get the money back. Hire a Forensic Accountant. If you suspect an executor is acting dishonestly, seek legal advice from a Specialist in Succession Law as soon as possible. A beneficiary has the right to notification of probate court actions, to view the original will, and to ask the estate’s executor for information and documentation as it relates to the estate’s assets. Thus, for example, if the executor has a $100,000 bond but you can prove that $125,000 was stolen, your compensation will be limited to $100,000. If, however, the accounting is incomplete or suspect, you can petition the court to remove the executor and appoint a new one. Another option is to order the executor to place the funds in a restricted account and to provide proof that such action was taken. If that doesn’t generate the desired result, you can try mediation before going in front of the court. The extent to which you can recoup the estate's losses, however, is limited by the executor's resources, so it's important to act quickly before the estate's funds are all spent. When an Executor is Issued with a Grant of Probate, they will have sworn an Oath or Statement of Truth, confirming that they will administer the estate in accordance with the law.. When an executor is dishonest Executors of an estate have an obligation to engage in the due administration of the estate. A beneficiary has several ways to take action against a thieving executor. My sister and executor of my father, whose name was on all bank accounts, stole all of the money before my father passed so that there is nothing left for the other siblings. Terms of Use and Decide if you want a criminal prosecution or a civil prosecution. There are a number of remedies available to force your sibling to return the money. A person with an interest in the estate can petition to have an Executor removed if there are good grounds to do so. For example, if a beneficiary believes that the Executor is stealing funds from the estate, he can prepare and file a Petition to Revoke and Appoint. What can I do if the executor stole everything before the testator passed? The executor must also ensure that all … You might also notice checks made out to the executor, but this doesn’t necessarily mean she’s stealing from the estate. As a beneficiary, you have the right to file a lawsuit against the executor based on your claim to the funds and property held by the estate. The content is not legal advice. If you suspect that the executor is stealing money from the estate, you or your attorney should send him a letter demanding an accounting. Unless your sister is cooperative, you will need to seek resolution through the courts and legal system. The policyholder can designate percentages of the money that should go to each beneficiary. Therefore, the person chosen to act as an estate’s executor should be someone trustworthy, responsible and in good financial standing. You can also hire an estate planning attorney for assistance. How to Prosecute Someone for Stealing From Probate Step 1. In addition to stealing from the estate, other types of executor misconduct include favoring one beneficiary over another, poor asset management and failing to provide a beneficiary with documentation that he or she has a legal right to receive, to name a few. Because a degree of the human element is involved, problems of course arise when executors do not do what they are supposed to do. Beneficiaries of an estate must move quickly it they are convinced that the estate’s executor is stealing. Finally, in cases where the theft is particularly egregious or well-documented, you may wish to contact the police. Locating, inventorying, and appraising the estate assets. If you refuse to act as executor: Another executor named in the will can take on all the duties. You can start by confronting the executor to demand an explanation for questionable transactions or the sudden disappearance of funds. An untrustworthy executor is in a position where they could embezzle funds after your death. We’ve already covered the steps an executor would need to take to carry out a Will in a previous post, but have listed the general tasks below. I nearly signed away my right as executor as she wanted to do the probate herself, to save us money. Taking more than you are entitled to by law can be interpreted as stealing from the other beneficiaries of the estate. Beneficiaries h… Use of our products and services are governed by our i have proof that someone took money out of the estate and did not distribute it equally among the other beneficiaries what can i do. For example, the court can order the financial institution that is holding the estate’s assets to restrict the account and prohibit the withdrawal of funds without a court order. The longer the beneficiaries wait to act against the executor in question, the less likely they’ll be able to recover stolen funds and/or possessions. Get a copy of the will and other documents filed with the probate court. He passed away 2 years ago and none of us have heard anything from her about a will, any assets, nothing. The information contained in this web site is provided only as general information which may or may not reflect the most current legal developments. This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. If the executor was required to obtain a bond, the bond’s surety may have to pay the surcharge. Filing a Lawsuit Against the Executor If you can show that you’ve suffered financially from the executor's actions (or inactions), you can sue the executor. (Indeed, you may be grieving as well.) However, an executor can’t steal from the estate, refuse to communicate with beneficiaries, or needlessly delay payments. At this stage the executor usually files for bankruptcy so you are just SOL. The executor pays a premium for the insurer to cover losses caused by his conduct. If a guardian or executor is stealing from an estate, or misuses estate money, a lawsuit called a Surcharge Action can be filed. Step 2. What steps can beneficiaries take if they become concerned that the executor is stealing from the estate in question? Some people may feel guilty about taking money for serving as the executor of a will. State laws set a time limit in which an heir may take action against an estate executor. A deceitful beneficiary might "borrow" from the estate with no intention of returning the funds. Things Your Executor Can Do. Even though you have a right to recover from the executor, if the money is spent, he may not have the resources to repay you. Submitting the will to the court for probate, Setting up a separate bank account for the estate, Locating, inventorying, and appraising the estate assets, Notifying creditors of the deceased's passing, Paying the deceased's debts, including funeral expenses and final taxes, Keeping an accurate accounting of all income and expenses, Distributing assets according to the will. This crime can take many forms. If you have been appointed the executor in someone's will, the task can seem daunting. Executors for CA estates are entitled to compensation and fees ranging from 0.5% to 4% of gross estate value: use the EstateExec compensation calculator. This could include value appraisals, asset sales contracts and an inventory of property. If there’s nothing left after that or the liabilities of the estate exceed the assets, the beneficiaries won’t receive an inheritance. Know, however, that the police may not be responsive to allegations of executor theft, believing the issue to be a family dispute that can be difficult to prove. Make copies of all the evidence. Where an executor refuses to return the money, we sue the executor and execute his property in favor of the estate. In addition to stealing from the estate, other. Whatever you do, you should act quickly. As a beneficiary, you can turn to the insurer to repay the executor's theft up to the bond amount. Additionally, you can request that the executor be removed, prohibited from taking any more assets from the estate, and prohibited from using funds that have already been misappropriated. Sometimes they do work and scare/move the errant executor into more sensible actions..... Option 2 - Propose Mediation. This means it is necessary to ensure that all estate assets are protected from loss, theft, damage, or waste. Unfortunately, that person may end up not being as honorable as the decedent thought. You face many serious responsibilities, with personal liability for your mistakes as a possible consequence. Step 3. In some states, to recover on the bond you must file a lawsuit, sometimes known as a surcharge action, against both the insurer and the executor. Hopefully, the accounting will show your suspicions are unfounded. An executor or anyone else improperly taking money from an estate can be subject to criminal prosecution for theft from the estate, even if they are one of the beneficiaries. He has control of the assets and can simply transfer them over to himself and spend it or hide it. Beneficiaries of an estate must move quickly it they are convinced that the estate’s executor is stealing. If you are concerned an estate administrator or guardian may potentially steal assets, ensure the Court sets an appropriately high … Estate Planning and Asset Protection Toolbox. Feel free to contact us for a referral to an experienced probate attorney to help you determine whether you have a case or not. After a person dies, their executor will be performing a variety of legal functions, including selling property, paying creditors, bringing any lawsuits that need to be filed, and, if necessary, reviewing medical records and distributing assets to their named beneficiaries. The trustee is charged with managing and protecting these assets until they are distributed to … Jeffrey M. Verdon Law Group, LLP • 1201 Dove Street, Suite 400 • Newport Beach, CA 92660 • 949-333-8152Redwood City Office - 303 Twin Dolphin Drive, 6th Floor • Redwood City, CA 94065. Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel. As soon as theft is suspected, have your lawyer issue a demand letter asking for an account of the executor’s financial transactions with regard to the estate. But that will not get the money back. If your suspicions are correct and the executor is stealing from the estate, the executor may face several consequences such as being removed as executor, being ordered by the court to repay all of the stolen funds to the estate, and/or being ordered by the court to return any stolen property to the estate. Ask a lawyer - it's free! The executor is the person appointed in a deceased person's will to manage her estate and distribute assets to the will's beneficiaries. Sometimes it happens -- a beneficiary steals money or assets from an estate before the estate is distributed to heirs. You can also request that the probate court add restrictions against the account. Removing the Executor Who Steals from the Estate. Get the right guidance with an attorney by your side. In response, he is required to provide you with documentation of all the estate assets, income, and expenses, including bank statements, receipts, and other supporting materials. The vast majority of executors are lay family members, not professionals such as accountants, lawyers or trustee organisations. You can sue but this will be expensive and if you get a judgement you still have to collect. If this does not work, sometimes the carrot of mediation can have the desired impact. An executor's many responsibilities require him to have access to the estate's funds, which sometimes can prove too much of a temptation for someone inclined to dishonesty. We're available Mon-Fri 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PT and weekends 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT. What Happens When a Beneficiary of an Irrevocable Trust Receives Money? An online service provider can guide you through the process. An executor can delay payments to beneficiaries to pay taxes and debts on the estate. State laws set a time limit in which an heir may take action against an estate executor. An executor's duties include: Submitting the will to the court for probate. A bond is insurance for the estate that protects the estate from any breach of duty by the executor. If no other executor is named, you can apply to the court to appoint an administrator. Enormous obligations are cast upon an executor to gather in the estate, pay all testamentary debts and expenses and to distribute the estate in a correct and legal way. Require a bond. Since the executor is acting as a fiduciary, it is important that there is no appearance of wrongdoing. Filing a civil lawsuit takes time, but you should be able to appear before the probate court to request an injunction which can limit the damage that the executor can do while your case is being decided. Yes the executor can steal all of the money. “To do otherwise puts the executor is a very tenable legal position,” he adds. What Happens When the Executor of the Will Steals the Money? This is understandable, as the people you’ll be working with will undoubtedly be grieving. What if the executor of the estate steals money from the beneficiaies. © LegalZoom.com, Inc. All rights reserved. Being an executor can be a very onerous and difficult task indeed. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law. Our network attorneys have an average customer rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars. But an executor’s authority isn’t endless. Beneficiaries should expect to receive regular updates that document how the executor is handling the estate plan. Estate administration Executor of will Probate Non-probate assets. Most people name their spouse, a close friend, or family member as their executor. If you are a beneficiary and are having difficulties with an unhelpful executor, what are the key factors and what can you do ?. Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter! Thereafter, you can file a lawsuit against the former executor to recover stolen assets. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. If you’ve been named an executor, a couple basic rules of thumb are that you can’t do anything that disregards the provisions in the will, and you can… When Executor of Will Steals Money If the executor of the will steals the money or refuses to distribute it according to the terms of the Will, the beneficiary runs the risk of … Notifying creditors of the deceased's passing. Show 1 more Show 1 less . For example, if the executor stole or failed to protect the assets from the estate, you can bring a lawsuit that demands that the executor pay back the estate for the losses. These materials have been prepared by Jeffrey M. Verdon Law Group, LLP, for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. More . Question Details: My sister and executor of my father, whose name was on all bank accounts, stole all of the money before my father passed so that there is nothing left for the other siblings.