The executor or administrator of an Ohio estate occupies a powerful office. Specifically, the executor or administrator is charged with wrapping up the affairs of a decedent and following the decedent’s wishes (or the law, if the decedent died intestate) in distributing estate property. Depending on the size of the estate and the interest of the court and the decedent’s heirs, the executor or administrator may need to perform these tasks with little supervision and with the complete faith and trust of the court and the decedent’s heirs and beneficiaries.
Violations of an Executor’s Duties Can Have Serious Ramifications for Others
While the vast majority of executors and administrators in Ohio take their responsibilities seriously and perform the tasks required of them in an ethical manner, not all do. Executors and administrators may violate their obligations and authority in a number of ways, such as:
- Delaying in settling the estate of the deceased;
- Self-dealing or taking advantage of opportunities that disadvantage the estate;
- Failing to pay the lawful claims presented against the estate and/or paying unlawful or invalid claims;
- Taking property from the estate as “compensation” when not authorized or directed to do so.
Any of these activities (or other similar activities and actions) delay or deny creditors, heirs, and/or beneficiaries the lawful property to which they may be entitled under the law.
Filing an Action Against an Executor or Administrator
Interested parties – that is, parties who may have a claim against a decedent’s estate and/or who may be heirs and/or beneficiaries of the decedent – may file an action against the executor or administrator if that person is not performing his or her tasks in an ethical or competent manner. In such an action, the interested party may be able to recover compensation for:
- The value of any decrease in the value of property due to a delay in distributing or protecting the asset;
- The value of assets wrongfully withheld or disposed of unlawfully;
- In some extreme cases where there is clear evidence of deliberate and malicious conduct that caused serious harm to one or more interested parties, punitive damages may also be available.
Simply proving that an executor or administrator engaged in wrongful conduct is not sufficient to obtain any damages or compensation: the interested party who files an action against an executor or administrator is responsible for specifying the damages he or she is seeking and the amount of such damages.
When Should I Contact an Ohio Probate Attorney?
If you suspect the executor or administrator of your loved one’s estate is engaged in wrongful or unethical conduct, enlisting the assistance of an Ohio probate attorney from Kryszak Law Firm sooner rather than later can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. When you retain our services, we will promptly get to work gathering evidence of wrongdoing and prosecuting your claim. Call our Sheffield Village office today for help at 440-934-5330.