Can beneficiaries sue the administrator of an estate?

On Behalf of | Jan 2, 2023 | Estate And Trust Administration

Being chosen as an administrator of someone’s estate can be an honor. However, it can also be problematic if you ignore certain things. As an administrator, you are responsible for distributing an estate to the heirs. In addition, you must ensure all the debts the deceased had are paid and the remaining amount is distributed among the beneficiaries. You are required to do this work with the greatest diligence and honesty. This requirement is known as a fiduciary duty.

That said, sometimes the beneficiaries can sue you for breaching this duty or any misconduct that results in damages or financial loss. Below are circumstances under which beneficiaries can sue an administrator.

Withholding inheritance

An administrator must divide properties or assets after settling all debts and taxes. If the money is insufficient to pay all debts and taxes, or the estate is insolvent, the claims should be settled in the order of priority.

Suppose an administrator fails to do so or takes money from the estate that would have been used to pay the debts. In that case, the beneficiaries can sue them for deliberately delaying the distribution of remaining assets.

Working without integrity

When administrators breach the fiduciary role, they might be subjected to disciplinary actions. The administrator has the legal duty to treat all the heirs and beneficiaries equally and must act in the estate’s best interest. However, sometimes, things might get complicated, especially if the administrator is one of the beneficiaries and they want to keep a property that other heirs want to sell.

Administrators are usually tasked with many things. For example, they must identify creditors, confirm the amount owed, pay all debts and taxes the deceased had and distribute assets and property to heirs. However, sometimes, things can get complicated, and the administrator might make mistakes that can get them sued. Therefore, administrators must understand the law and get legal guidance to avoid these issues.