Deceased Grandparents; inherited land divided between two daughters. Potential breach of fiduciary duty; can I challenge Aunt’s executrix status?

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Deceased Grandparents; inherited land divided between two daughters. Potential breach of fiduciary duty; can I challenge Aunt’s executrix status?

Grandparents deceased in 2002 and 2007. Aunt was made the executrix by courts, and determined to split 19 acre land between aunt and her sister (my mother).Currently the inherited land has some rental property and the Aunt is acting as landlord. Yet, she refuses to manage the land and fix utilities issues, despite collecting the rent. Suppose to split rent evenly with my mother, yet has not done so on several occasions (claiming need to pay for new safety deposit key). Now, Aunt is attempting to sale land.Is this a breach of fiduciary duty? What can I do (as grandson) to challenge this?

Asked on June 22, 2009 under Estate Planning, Alabama

Answers:

B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

I doubt that you can do anything yourself. Your outline of the facts does strongly suggest that your aunt's actions need to be given a much closer look, for possible breach of fiduciary duty, but your mother will have to get that started.  She really needs to do this through a lawyer, and I can't imagine that 19 acres of land including rental property aren't worth enough, even in this economy, to raise the stakes to where doing this the right way could quite easily make a difference greater than the legal fees.  One place to find an attorney in your area is our website, http://attorneypages.com

Your aunt's fiduciary duty to the estate means she has to handle the estate, and its property and income from the property, with the utmost fairness;  if she fails to do so, she can be required to make up the difference out of her own pocket, in most states.  While the law and procedure varies from one state to another, and I don't practice in your state, I'm certain that there is a way to make your aunt give a full and detailed accounting to your mother and to the court, of what she's done.


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