What to do about misconduct by an executrix?

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What to do about misconduct by an executrix?

My mother passed 5 months ago and I was never contacted by my sister, the Executrix of her Will. The Will stated that her “property, real personal and mixed be divided equally between her 5 children,” excluding the 6th child, the Executrix, who was “already adequately provided for.” The Executrix never administered the Will and all of my mother’s possessions are gone. I also believe my sister was stealing from my mother’s account (joint with her) for years. How do I obtain those bank records for a money trail? Also, there were 2 prior Wills I would like to view, can I petition the court and how?

Asked on November 6, 2010 under Estate Planning, Pennsylvania

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Based on the facts that you have presented there seems to be no question that there has been breach of "fiduciary duty" by the executrix either through fraud, negligence,and/or similar misconduct.  By way of background, this is the duty implied when someone is put in a position of trust to benefit others.  An example of fiduciary relations would be that of executor and heir.  Accordingly, a fiduciary must exercise the utmost good faith and put their interests beneath the interests of others.  An executor of an estate owes a duty to exercise their obligations in accordance with the Will under which they were appointed.  The executor must also follow the law as it pertains to the distribution and handling of estate assets.  The failure of a fiduciary to perform their duties properly may give rise to a claim.   

Therefore, you should consult directly with a probate attorney on all of this immediately.  You must challenge the executrix and have her removed for breach of fiduciary duty.  Additionally, you will then need to have someone else appointed who can challenge the transfers and transactions already made and have the funds returned to the estate.  An accounting of the estate will be done.  If the executrix is bonded (insured) you may also be able to go after the insurance money to recoup any losses. Again, a probate lawyer can best guide you in this.


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