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Suing the executor of a will

The executor that has been appointed in a California will is in charge of taking care of the testator’s unpaid taxes and other debts, followed by distributing the assets to the correct recipients. However, if an executor makes key errors, they can be potentially liable to be sued individually.

Conditions for suing an executor

Executors are normally protected from being sued, as long as they are acting in the interests of the estate. This is to protect them from liability if they make mistakes. Otherwise, few people would want to be executors. An executor can be sued if one of two specific cases is true. The first case is if they do not pay a creditor to whom the estate owes money at the time and in the order that the debt dictates. In other words, if the executor pays a junior creditor before a senior one, the senior creditor can sue the executor. The second case is if the executor seriously mismanages or dishonestly handles the estate.

Malfeasance by an executor

Executors are required by law to act on behalf of the estate, not themselves. If they take actions that benefit themselves, they open themselves up to serious liability. A significant mishandling of the estate process can also expose them to a lawsuit if the problems are so severe that they interfere to a considerable degree in the distribution of assets. The person who would have standing to sue in these cases would be the intended heir or heirs listed in the will.

Normally, executors are protected during the course of their work as they follow the instructions in a will. However, if they act for themselves, mismanage the estate, or err in paying creditors, they can be sued.