What if I suspect the executor is mishandling assets?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What if I suspect the executor is mishandling assets?

My grandmother died and left my uncle the executor her house. She left jewelry to my sister and the rest of the assets of the estate to be divided equally between my sister and I. She died over 2 months ago and although I have talked to my uncle numerous times since then, I did not know I was named in the will until I received a certified copy in the mail last week from a lawyer’s office in FL; I am in NY. My uncle has already threatened to destroy an insurance policy that has another uncle as the beneficiary because of a disagreement between them and he is not being straightforward with me. In addition, the executor has already purchased himself many things like a new car, iPhone 10, new computer and a gun, even though he does not work or have any income. There were many insurance policies with multiple beneficiaries so he may have received a check from that. I know that the court can force him to account for all spending and

make inventories of jewelry but how does that happen? Do I talk to the lawyer who sent the will and probate notice or do I have to get my own lawyer who would represent my sister and I? I really don’t know how much the estate might actually consist of my grandmother was not wealthy although she did have investments, stocks and bonds and such. I feel really awful about the whole situation.

Asked on February 18, 2018 under Estate Planning, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You are correct that a court can force him to account not just for his spending and the location or distribution of assets, but also for his general conduct as executor. If he has not been following the will and/or has not been honoring his "fiduciary duty" (his law-imposed duty to act fairly, with reasonable care, and with loyalty to the interests of the estate and beneficiaries; this means, among other things, NOT spending estate funds on himself), the court can order him to repay amounts improperty taken, to return assets or money, and can also replace him as administratory.
You would need your own attorney to represent you: the lawyer who sent you the will and probate notice is working for the estate, so in a way for the executor. You will be filing a legal action against the exector. Therefore, you need your own lawyer.

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