Can the executor of an estate put a freeze on the deceased assets?

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Can the executor of an estate put a freeze on the deceased assets?

My father died two years ago and my sister and I have yet to see a
will. My step mother claims that she put a freeze on my dad’s
assets/estate. Can she do that? I think she is hiding something from
my sister and me.

Asked on October 31, 2019 under Estate Planning, Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

An executor can IF doing so is in the best interest of the estate and the heirs/beneficiairies--such as if she suspects someone has access to the assets and is trying to siphon them or steal them, or while she determines competing claims.
But the action must be in the interest(s) of the estate and those who will inherit: the executor has a fiduciary (law-imposed) duty to act in their interest. If the executor is doing this so that she can take assets or to cover up her own wrongdoing or for any other improper reason, it is illegal.
If you don't trust the executor, you can bring a legal action called an action "for an accounting" to make the executor "account for" her handling of the estate: demonstrate that she is following any will and the law, being reasonably careful, acting in the estate's and heirs' interests, etc. If a court determines that she is not doing this, it can order her to do or not do certain things, to repay money she took or lost from the estate, or replace her as executor. 
If the amount of money at stake is enough to justify legal fees, hire a lawyer to help you. If not, contact the probate court for information about this kind of legal action.


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