Fiduciaries (executors, administrators and trustees) are appointed to manage a person’s affairs and distribute their assets to their beneficiaries. They have certain responsibilities owed to beneficiaries and heirs of a New York decedent in connection with their responsibilities. Fiduciary responsibilities may include the following:
- Hiring a New York estate attorney
- Making an inventory and accounting of estate assets
- Opening an estate bank account
- Managing financial accounts
- Hiring a property appraiser and/or real estate agent
- Selling and liquidating estate assets
- Paying claims
- Distributing assets to beneficiaries
Fiduciary Litigation Proceeding
When an heir, beneficiary or other interested party to an estate believes that the fiduciary has committed an illegal act, acted in a manner that was inappropriate or made bad judgments resulting in financial losses to the estate or to them, they have the right to file a litigation action against the fiduciary with the New York Surrogate’s Court. However, there must be solid evidence reflecting that the fiduciary breached a fiduciary duty or committed a wrongful or illegal act. The mere fact that an heir or beneficiary dislikes the fiduciary is not sufficient to have the fiduciary removed or to bring criminal or other charges against the fiduciary.
Obtaining Legal Assistance
Typically the family member or other person bringing about the litigation will hire an experienced New York probate litigation lawyer to represent them. Saint Pre Law Firm, a leading NYC estate & probate firm, will review the evidence and advise the family of all their legal options. It is customary for the attorney to request that the fiduciary present estate accountings and other financial and legal documents at the hearing. The fiduciary may also be required pay a creditor’s claim. A fiduciary can also be convicted of criminal offenses. The attorney will request that the fiduciary be removed by the Court and a new fiduciary be appointed. In addition, the fiduciary can be held personally liable for financial losses incurred to the estate or other parties to the estate and can be required to pay restitution to them.
The fiduciary will also hire a New York litigation lawyer to defend the fiduciary against the charges. The attorney representing the attorney will review the claims against the fiduciary to determine if they have any merit and argue that the fiduciary did not breach any fiduciary duty. Expert witnesses may be called at the hearing to testify on behalf of the fiduciary. A CPA may also be hired to assist with the presentation of the comprehensive accountings. After listening to all the testimony and evidence, the Court will make a final determination.
Mike St. Pre represents fiduciaries, beneficiaries, heirs and other interested parties to an estate. If you are involved in an estate litigation matter concerning the removal of a fiduciary, will contest or other estate litigation matter or need assistance with the administration of a New York probate estate or trust, it is recommended that you give us a call right now for a free confidential consultation. We will do the job right.