Are There Options For Recourse Against An Estate Trustee For Wrongdoing?

Posted on: 9 June 2016

When an estate goes through the probate process, the trustee of the estate has several responsibilities they must uphold. The trustee is charged with gathering all assets belonging to the estate. The trustee must then satisfy any debts and claims against the estate with these assets. The trustee must also contact all heirs and interested parties and ensure that the proceeds of the estate, if any, are distributed properly among those who are legally entitled to inherit from the estate. Most trustees are honest, ethical and do everything completely above-board. However, estate trustees are just regular people, and as such, sometimes a trustee will attempt to conceal assets, misappropriate assets or engage in some activity that is a violation of probate law.

What Happens When an Estate Trustee Engages in Misconduct?

If the trustee of an estate is found to be engaging in any type of misconduct, from concealment of assets to theft and even falsification of records, the trustee can be punished in several ways. Creditors, heirs and others with any type of claim to the estate may sue the trustee. The court will ensure that the claimant receives their fair share of the estate, and can also award damages to the claimant, to be paid personally by the trustee. The court may also assess fines against the trustee, as well as have the trustee jailed for contempt of court. Some states require trustees to be bonded to make sure there is recourse in the event of wrongdoing on the part of the trustee. The insurance company that issued the bond will pay any claims against a trustee who is deemed to be stealing, concealing or misappropriating funds from an estate.

Where to Go for Help

If you believe that an estate trustee has engaged in wrongdoing in the course of handling an estate, you do have options for recourse. It is important to assert your claim immediately, as there may be a statute of limitations on probate and estate issues. These time frames vary from state to state. You should contact an attorney that is experienced in probate issues to explain your situation and seek advice on your options. If your attorney believes you have a case against the trustee of the estate, he or she will help you file suit against the trustee so you can receive your portion of the estate and damages, if authorized. The trustee may also be fined or jailed for contempt of court if found in violation of any probate laws, so it is imperative that you take action if you have concerns of wrongdoing. Contact a business, such as David R Webb Attorney, for more information.