Estate litigation frequently pits the beneficiaries of the estate against the executor for a variety of reasons. Often, the beneficiary believes that there is some form of conflict of interest that does not allow the executor to act in the best interest of the heirs, as is their duty as the executor. When this happens, the estate division gets messy.
Examples of common executor-beneficiary conflicts of interest
- An executor is buying from the estate. In order to act in the best interests of the beneficiary, the executor should aim to get the highest possible price for sold items from the estate. However, if the executor is also the buyer of property from the estate, a conflict likely exists.
- An executor has not properly accounted. An executor is required to account to the beneficiaries of the estate for all of the business of the estate. If the executor refuses to properly account, the beneficiaries have a right to question how well the executor is handling the estate responsibilities.
- An executor is serving their own interests. As many executors are also heirs to an estate, they can inherit from the estate as a beneficiary, but they cannot use their power as executor to make sure they get their way if their interests conflict with the interests of other beneficiaries.
What to Do in a Conflict
If you believe that there is a conflict of interest between an executor and the heirs to the estate, there is really only one thing to do – contact an attorney who routinely handles estate litigation. The executor can be removed from their position, and a new more impartial one can be appointed. Likewise, the Court could order the executor to provide an accounting to the court and the beneficiaries, or the Court could order the executor to make certain divisions of the estate property.
If you find yourself in conflict with beneficiaries as an executor or with an executor as a beneficiary, contact us today. We can help you work through all your options to get the division of an estate back on course so the everyone can get their inheritance.