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Executors who fail in their duties can be replaced

An Ohio resident who has been named the executor under a person's will has an important job. The executor is responsible for inventorying the contents of the estate and then distributing the assets to beneficiaries as provided for in the will. Any financial or tax-related decisions that the executor makes must be made with all of the beneficiaries in mind.

An individual was concerned about the way that her sister was handling her deceased mother's estate. The sister had been named the executor, and the mother's estate planning documents also included a trust that divided its assets equally between her three adult children. Despite what was written in the mother's will, the executor decided to take control of her mother's house and possessions. She also failed to inventory her mother's belongings or send tax documents for the trust to her siblings.

Though the sister hoped to avoid litigation, going through the court system is usually necessary when executors fail to comply with their fiduciary duties. If they do not produce an inventory of assets, claim assets that they are not entitled to take and fail to complete necessary tax forms, they may have to be removed from their position by the probate court.

Naming a family member the executor is not always the best decision, as doing this has the potential to create unforeseen conflicts. An estate planning attorney might suggest an alternative if the client has several children. If there is no will, the probate court will appoint an estate administrator who will have the same fiduciary responsibilities that an executor has.

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