Administering an estate can be an honorable endeavor, but it can also be stressful. A lot of people misunderstand what the process entails, and that can lead them to stray from the law. In other instances, estate administrators simply see the opportunity for personal gain, thereby putting the financial viability of the estate at risk.
Beware the red flags of a breached fiduciary duty
For these reasons, regardless of whether you’re an estate administrator or an estate’s beneficiary, it’s important to understand the fiduciary duty. Here, the estate administrator and any trustees are required to put the financial interests of any named heirs and beneficiaries first. If any of the red flags outlined below appear, then that fiduciary duty may have been breached:
- The estate’s assets have been comingled with the administrator’s or trustee’s personal finances
- The estate has poor accounting practices
- Estate assets have gone missing without proper explanation
- Large withdrawals have been taken from the estate without justification
- Favoritism is shown toward certain beneficiaries or creditors
If you’re an heir or beneficiary and see any of these red flags, then you need to start asking questions to figure out what’s going on. You may want to request the estate’s financial records and have a conversation with the fiduciary to get his or her take on the issues. If, on the other hand, you’re an estate administrator or a trustee, then you need to make sure that you’re staying away from perceptions of impropriety.
Competently navigate your probate issues
We know that dealing with probate matters can be stressful. But you can find the support that you need to competently and confidently get through the process. If you think that you could benefit from assistance in doing that and protecting your interests, then now may be the time to discuss your circumstances with a legal team that is experienced in this area of the law.