After your loved one passed away, you undoubtedly felt many strong emotions. Even if the event was expected due to illness or old age, it can still hit hard. Still, you may have already known that your family member intended to leave you part of his or her estate, and you look forward to obtaining those assets so that you still have a piece of your loved one.
Of course, before you obtain any property from the estate, the executor must open and proceed with the probate process. You may not know exactly what that entails because your loved one did not name you as executor. You may also not know whether you should have concerns over the manner in which the executor handles the estate. However, as a beneficiary, you have rights, and the executor has a fiduciary duty to you, other beneficiaries and the estate.
When should you feel concerned?
Probate can certainly take a considerable amount of time to complete, so the fact that the executor has not completed the process soon after your loved one's death may not necessarily be a reason for concern. However, certain red flags could give you reason to wonder whether he or she is acting appropriately. Some examples include the following:
- The executor acts hostile or angry when you question him or her about the probate process or the estate.
- The executor does not provide you with financial documents or bank statements, even if you ask for copies.
- The executor ignores your calls or other forms of contact.
- You do not know and cannot get information about where estate funds are going or for what amount estate property sold.
- You do not know what investments the executor has made with estate assets.
Overall, if an executor refuses to keep you in the loop, the buttoned-up stance may stem from wrongdoing on his or her part. As a result, you may need to determine whether taking legal action against the executor is necessary.
What are your legal options?
As a direct beneficiary of the estate, you have standing to take legal action in such cases. If you believe that the executor has breached his or her fiduciary duty to you, the other beneficiaries or the estate, you may have reason to move forward with probate litigation. Consulting with a Texas attorney about how to address your concerns and how to safeguard the estate may allow you to gain useful information.