When a loved one has passed away, their estate must be dealt with. This means typically one person is appointed the executor or trustee of their estate and is now responsible for dividing up the existing assets to the beneficiaries.
For the most part, this is a straightforward act and usually no problems arise. However, there are times when the executor or trustee might be mishandling the funds from the estate and potentially stealing money or even selling off assets that don't belong to them.
If you believe this is happening to your loved one's estate, there are some things you can do legally. First, contact an estate litigation attorney who can help you through the laws surrounding this. Here is what you can do if you think the executor is mishandling funds.
Get An Accounting Of The Estate
Once you have hired an estate litigation attorney, you will need to get a complete accounting of the estate. This means all funds and assets and whom they were meant to go to. You will need a copy of the will, which you can request from the executor or trustee or from the lawyer who handled the estate planning. If you are a beneficiary, you should be entitled to a copy of the will.
Next, check all bank accounts and records of transactions that the trustee has done in relation to the estate. There should be a correlation between what the trustee is saying the funds went to and the actual records you can find through the bank. If possible, you could also check to see if there were any funds missing or misdirected before the estate passed into the executor or trustee's hands. This is to help prove the executor or trustee may be stealing funds.
Compare Updates From The Executor And The Actual Financials
An executor or trustee has a responsibility to keep you and other beneficiaries updated on how the estate is being divided and distributed among them. They should inform you of all debts that are paid and what funds and assets are left over once all debts are paid.
You need to compare these updates from the executor and what the actual evidence of their workings are to see if they match. If they don't, contact your estate litigation attorney to help you file a lawsuit to have the executor removed or to have potential criminal charges pressed if the evidence supports they have been stealing from the estate.