The Executor is Not Following the Will — What Options are Available
A will is a foundational estate planning document. In writing a proper will, one needs to appoint an executor — this being the trusted person who will be responsible for identifying property, handling all debts and creditor claims, and distributing assets in accordance with the last wishes of the deceased.
Unfortunately, in some cases, executors fail to follow the will. When this occurs, beneficiaries need to take immediate action to protect their rights. Here, our Tampa probate attorneys provide an overview of your legal rights and your legal options if you believe the executor is not following the instructions contained within your loved one’s will.
Executors Have a Duty to Follow Directives in a Will
As a starting point, it is important to know that a will executor has a fiduciary duty. Simply put, a fiduciary duty is a heightened standard of care that requires a person who is in a privileged capacity to act in a manner that will benefit another party. In Florida, will executors are required to both act in the best interests of the relevant beneficiaries and to carry out the true last wishes of the deceased. Failure to do so may be a breach of fiduciary duty, which could merit legal action.
How to Protect Your Legal Rights
For many different reasons, conflict can arise regarding the actions or inactions of an executor. If you believe that your rights are being violated, you have legal options available. What you should do next will depend, in large part, on whether or not the will is already in the probate process. In some cases, litigation will be required. In bringing a claim against a will executor or estate administrator, you may be eligible to obtain any of the following three remedies:
- Compel Action: First and foremost, you can file a claim to get a Florida court to compel action by an executor. Most often, beneficiaries seek this type of remedy when a will executor refuses to distribute the property.
- Remove an Executor: If a will executor is negligent, unqualified, or has committed fraud, the best option may be to seek their removal. Florida courts have the authority to remove will executors who incompetent or have acted in a dishonest manner.
- Financial Compensation: Finally, if you have already suffered direct monetary losses as a result of an executor’s breach of fiduciary duty, you may be entitled to recover financial compensation for your damages.
Discuss Your Case With Our Tampa, FL Probate Litigation Lawyer Right Away
At Bubley & Bubley, P.A., our skilled Florida estate planning attorneys are committed to providing personal service and effective representation to clients. If you need help dealing with an executor who is not following the will, please do not hesitate to contact us for a fully private initial legal consultation. We serve communities in Hillsborough County and throughout the surrounding region, including Tampa, Brandon, Apollo Beach, Clearwater New Port Richey, and Riverview.