The executor of an estate either takes that role on because a deceased person named them specifically to serve in this way or because the probate courts empowered them. In either situation, an executor has an obligation to the estate and the people who would benefit from it.
An executor should put the needs of beneficiaries above their own wishes and should act to maximize the value of the estate. They must manage estate assets while following through on the instructions left by the testator when they died.
Unfortunately, not everyone who serves as an executor will fulfill their duties. Some will fail to take important steps, which will eventually harm the beneficiaries of the estate. Others may engage in intentional misconduct, such as embezzlement from the estate. What can you do if an executor has diminished your inheritance?
You can remove them from their role
The Ohio probate courts can name an executor or approve the choice made by a testator, but they can also strip someone of that authority. If an executor has failed to take crucial actions or has engaged in embezzlement or similar acts of misconduct, the beneficiaries of the estate could challenge their choices and request that the courts remove them.
In some cases, having a new executor take over the role will be an adequate response. Other times, their embezzlement or errors may require additional action.
Misconduct can lead to liability
Although executors cannot typically benefit from an estate and also are not responsible for losses incurred by the estate, there is an exception to that specific probate law. When an executor causes losses through gross mismanagement of estate resources or obvious misconduct like embezzlement, the beneficiaries of the estate could hold them responsible for the assets that they did not receive as anticipated.
Ideally, beneficiaries will recognize warning signs of misconduct or incompetence early and will be able to ask the courts to prevent the inappropriate distribution or sale of estate assets or remove the executor before they do too much harm.
Learning more about the reasons that you could challenge or remove an executor from their role can help you protect your inheritance and the intentions of your loved one who died.