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For Estate Planning, Estate Administration And Disputes

Can an estate administrator be sued by beneficiaries?

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2024 | Estate Administration & Probate |

If you lost a loved one, you may currently be dealing with an estate administrator that is administering your loved one’s estate. What happens if you think they have done something wrong?

In New York, beneficiaries wield certain rights and recourse mechanisms if they believe an estate administrator has acted against their interests.

Grasping the estate administrator’s role

The estate administrator, typically appointed by the court in cases of intestacy, shoulders the weighty responsibility of managing and distributing a decedent’s (your passed loved one) assets. Their mandate includes asset collection, debt settlement, tax payments and equitable asset allocation among rightful heirs.

Legal grounds for beneficiary lawsuits

Beneficiaries can pursue legal action against estate administrators, chiefly centered on breaches of fiduciary duty. These breaches may manifest in various forms. One is asset mismanagement, which is negligence leading to financial losses within the estate. Another is delayed asset distribution: inordinate delays or failures in distributing assets as per legal stipulations.

Another common basis is accounting failure. Accounting failures often present as inadequate accounting provisions that lead to inadequate comprehensive financial reports to beneficiaries.

There is also self-dealing and breaching their fiduciary duty to the estate. Transactions benefiting the administrator at the estate’s expense are illegal.

Motivations for beneficiary lawsuits

Beneficiaries may initiate lawsuits to rectify diverse grievances. They could be to recoup losses resulting from estate mismanagement or to secure detailed estate transaction records. They can also be to remove self-serving administrators or ensure timely and just asset dispersal.

Beneficiaries in New York possess avenues to hold estate administrators accountable. Legal recourse serves not only to safeguard beneficiary interests, but also to preserve estate integrity.