Garton & Harris

Wills: When an executor can't be trusted

When naming people to act in authoritative positions in estate planning, no one is likely to choose someone he or she thinks can't be trusted. But, sometimes even the best laid plans go astray and some executors of wills in British Columbia may turn out to be less than honest. An executor is supposed to put the interests of the estate first, and when that doesn't happen, it can be particularly difficult for beneficiaries.

Being an executor is not for the faint of heart. It takes some know-how and it might be that the person chosen just doesn't know what the position entails. Basically, an executor has three duties: to pay the bills and beneficiaries of the estate, to protect the estate and to have the will probated. 

An executor cannot profit from his or her position, nor can he or she delegate responsibility to someone else. The executor must always act in the best interests of the estate and be mindful of protecting any financial interests. The individual must also keep beneficiaries informed as to the status of the estate.

A beneficiary who is questioning the actions of an executor may do well to get independent legal advice from a British Columbia lawyer experienced in wills and estate planning law. A lawyer may also be able to facilitate mediation regarding any disputes and point out any potential conflicts of interests of an executor. A lawyer may also be able to look into any possible breach of trust on the part of an executor and ascertain whether there is probable cause for removing the individual from the role.

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