When a person dies, a probate judge authorizes an individual to oversee that person's estate. This may be an executor or independent administrator designated in the person's will or an estate representative appointed by the court if the deceased died without a will.
When a person dies, a probate judge authorizes an individual to oversee that person's estate. This may be an executor or other individual appointed by the court as an independent administrator or supervised administrator.
By law, the administrator in a probate case or an estate representative in a matter in which probate is not necessary has a high degree of fiduciary duty — an obligation of loyalty to the wishes of the deceased, the interests of the estate, and the interests of beneficiaries. If the executor's or estate representative's actions are incompetent, self-serving or fraudulent, the court may determine that the conduct constitutes a breach of fiduciary duty.
At the Chicago law firm of Jill M. Metz & Associates, we understand the difficulties of the executor/representative role and the need for integrity, transparency and efficiency. Our lawyers help executors and estate representatives meet a high standard of conduct in probate and estate administration.
Fiduciary Duty Attorneys In Chicago
The core obligation of the executor or administrator is to preserve the estate and to make sure that beneficiaries receive their entitled portions. The executor's actions may fall short or cross the line in many ways, such as:
- Investing in speculative securities
- Paying off the mortgage instead of selling the property
- Failing to account for missing assets
- Failing to defend the estate against claims
- Waiting too long to initiate probate
- Taking property or money for personal use
- Accepting bribes or favoring certain heirs
Breach of fiduciary duty is somewhat in the eye of the beholder. Ultimately, it may be necessary for a probate court to decide if the executor has failed to meet the standard or acted in bad faith. The judge can remove a fiduciary (executor/representative) in a pending probate case, and beneficiaries may have additional civil remedies under Illinois law if their financial interests have been compromised.
Contact Our Chicago Probate Lawyers
Our attorneys are available to advise executors and estate representatives at every step to avoid mistakes or any hint of impropriety and to take proactive or corrective action when issues arise.
To discuss fiduciary duty or breach of fiduciary duty with our Chicago probate lawyers, call 773-878-4480 or contact us by e-mail. We look forward to working with you.
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