Executer of estate hiding will from beneficiary

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Executer of estate hiding will from beneficiary

My husband’s cousin is executer of his uncle’s estate and was supposed to give my husband, his sister and probably others what they were entitled to according to the Will but didn’t. She spent everything and sold everything for debt. When asked about it she won’t say where the will is or who drafted it law firm, etc. Does my husband and sister have the legal right to sue her if they don’t have the will to prove that she didn’t give them the stuff that they were supposed to get?

Asked on September 11, 2019 under Estate Planning, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

Yes, if a beneficiary believes the executor did any of the following--
1) Violated the instructions of the will;
2) Engaged in "self-dealing," or diverting to herself assets, money, etc. that should have been for beneficiaries;
3) Was unreasonably careless in how she managed the estate;
4) Did not actually have authority to do what she did--e.g. there was no will so she was not actually the executor
--she can be sued. Such a lawsuit against an executor is commonly called an action "for an accounting," since it asks the court to make the executor "account for" her management of the estate. An executor who is found to have violated the will or her "fiduciary duty" (the duty, imposed by the law, to be loyal to the beneficiaries' interests and not benefit herself at their expense through "self dealing," and also to use reasonable care), or is found to have never had the authority to act for the estate in the first place, can be ordered to repay money to the estate, can be replaced as executor, etc. A lawyer would be very helpful in doing this: your husband and his sister can join together to hire one.


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