The executor or individual taxed with estate administration has a lot of responsibilities. They have to attend court, file paperwork, communicate with creditors and manage estate resources. Their responsibilities may take more than a year to complete after someone dies, and they may commit many hours of effort for multiple successive months to complete the probate process.
Most individuals who accept an executor role will do their best to uphold someone’s last wishes and fulfill their final obligations. However, there are some people who will misuse their position of authority for personal gain. Family members may eventually come to suspect that an executor has embezzled from an estate, which is against Ohio law and may warrant their removal from the position. These are some of the most common warning signs of embezzlement of estate resources.
Missing Physical Property
Especially when the beneficiaries of an estate frequently visited someone’s home and had a close relationship with them, they will typically know what physical assets someone had in their possession when they died. When particularly valuable property, like works of fine art, certificates of deposit or jewelry go missing, family members may have reason to suspect that the executor is the one who has taken those assets or at least failed to secure them so that others would not steal them from the estate.
Gaps In Financial Records
There should be documentation of every transfer made and bill paid on behalf of the estate. Cash withdrawals from bank accounts and other questionable transactions, especially when the executor or someone close to them was the recipient of the funds, could be a warning sign that someone has abused their position of estate authority with the intention of enriching themselves. There should be receipts and records for all distributions and payments using estate assets.
Those who handle estate administration have a responsibility to the beneficiaries of the estate to act in their best interests and to maximize the value of the estate assets whenever possible. Misconduct like embezzlement and overt incompetence that leads to a significantly diminished estate could both be reasons for beneficiaries to initiate litigation against an executor. Reviewing estate records can help people identify warning signs that an executor may have embezzled and should therefore be removed from their position.