A testator might not choose an executor wisely. Selecting a close relative does not automatically lead to picking the right person for the job. The named executor might prove slow, incompetent, or irresponsible. In some unfortunate instances, the executor acts dishonestly. California law allows those with standing to sue an executor. Filing a lawsuit might be unavoidable when an executor grossly breaches his or her legal responsibilities.
Litigation against an executor
First, disgruntled beneficiaries won’t find the probate court appreciates their suing an executor because they want to force an outcome. If someone wants his or her distributions right away and the executor has yet to settle the estate’s debts, such litigation may prove meaningless.
Distributing funds takes time, but the executor should not delay the asset distribution unnecessarily. Nor should an executor leave anyone in the proverbial dark. Providing all beneficiaries with copies of the will allow them to know what they will receive.
An executor should respond timely to questions and inquiries. Regardless of personal feelings, an executor has a legal obligation to named beneficiaries.
Gross incompetence and unlawful behavior
When an executor fails to perform required duties faithfully, estate litigation might be unavoidable. An overwhelmed executor might not file the testator’s taxes or make insurance payments on a real estate property in probate. Such derelictions might be inexcusable.
Executors are responsible for keeping proper accounting records of the estate, and they are not to divert funds for unnecessary or personal reasons. Embezzling funds could lead the executor into serious legal troubles.
Showing bias towards any beneficiaries would also be grounds to sue. Personal feelings cannot enter the process, and an executor may not try to unethically go against the directions presented in the will.
Removing an executor may happen when a court reviews the challenge. The court could then appoint a potentially more competent person to the position.