Legal standing for property

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Legal standing for property

My older brother was executor for our parents property after they passed away. I found out around Oct last year from my other brother that the house was going to be sold for back taxes. After checking with the tax assessor offices in Enfield conn, I found out that the property had already been sold for the back taxes which were in excess of $23,000. He had failed to keep up the taxes for over 5 years I found out. I also have found out that his older daughter was the one who successfully purchased the property. Hasn’t he failed in his fiduciary responsibilities of his position as executor and what are my options against him and his daughter at this point?

Asked on June 16, 2018 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Based on what you write, your brother does appear to have violated his fiduciary duty as executor: he failed in his duty of care by failing to pay taxes; he failed in his duty of loyalty by lying to you; and he failed in his duty of loyalty even more by engaging in a form of "self dealing," or benefitting himself or his family (daughter) by creating a situation where his daughter purchased the propert at (what we presume is) a reduced price. 
As a beneficiary, you could sue your older brother for his breach of fiduciary duty and potentially force him to personally you pay any amounts which you should have received from your parent's house (e.g. from its sale; that is, your portion of its value) but did not due to his breach. You cannot sue his daughter or get the house back, since she did not have a duty to you and since also she presumably purchased the home properly at the tax sale, in compliance with the law. Your recourse is against your brother, the executor. Consult with an attorney about suing your brother for his breach.


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