What can be done if the administrator of an estate has not performed their duties adequately and is guilty of self-dealing?

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What can be done if the administrator of an estate has not performed their duties adequately and is guilty of self-dealing?

My father passed away almost 2 years ago without a Will. He is survived by my mother and I along with 3 kids from a past marriage. A lawyer was hired and an administrator was assigned (my brother) for court dates, inventory, etc. The inventory was done (not correctly I might add) and filed with the court. Nothing has happened within the 2 years to settle my father’s estate and just recently the lawyer requested to be removed as the lawyer of record (aka withdrew because the administrator was not in contact with him at all). Furthermore, the administrator has sold his house and moved into my father’s house without telling anyone and using estate money to pay for taxes, etc. What should be the next steps?

Asked on December 30, 2015 under Estate Planning, New York

Answers:

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

A personal representative is legally obligated to use their best reasonable effort to administer the estate of which they are in charge. If they act in a way that is disloyal or negligent, it constitutes an abuse of their position and they are considered to be in breach of their "fiduciary duty". This is a legal abuse of authority and, accordingly, the personal representative can be removed fro their poition and face liability for any losses to the estate that their actions cause. 
In this case, the PR's apparent acts of self-dealing may well give rise to a legal claim. At this point you need to consult directly with an attorney who specializes in these type cases. They can go over all details of your situation and best advise you further.


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