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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Why do executors get sued?

I received a newsletter this morning from my friends over at ERAssure (Estate Risk Assurance). These are the people who offer executor's insurance, and they have first-hand knowledge of the trouble executors get into. The newsletter included a list entitled "Why do executors get sued?", and I was interested to see that the reasons very much correspond with my own experience of estate litigation.

When you read the list, which I've reproduced below, you will notice that the very first item on the list is lack of communication leading to frustrated beneficiaries. Executors take note! Every day I receive comments on this blog and emails telling me about how the executor simply won't answer questions or reveal anything. It seems to be a pretty common practice for executors. The executors who think this is ok should probably know that often they will end up in court for behaving that way.

Another point that I found interesting is that one of the problems is "perception" of favouritism or conflict of interest. To me this leads right back to communication. If there is a perception that an executor is behaving incorrectly or dishonestly, and the executor chooses not to address the concern, the perception will only be reinforced. However, if the executor addresses the perception by explaining why he is taking certain steps in a certain way, there is a pretty good chance that the issue can be resolved.

The lesson for executors here is that you can get into trouble not just for what you're doing (or not doing) but also for what the beneficiaries believe you are doing (or not doing).

I hope that by reading this list, executors will understand how important it is that they do the best job that they can, and that they remain transparent and accountable to beneficiaries.

Why do executors get sued?
- communication challenges - frustrated beneficiaries
- acrimony with beneficiaries and/or executors
- perceptions of favouritism or conflict of interest
- individuals that are treated differently in the will
- executors that had Power of Attorney for Care or Property for the deceased
- failing to properly value assets
- improper management of financial assets, like stock portfolios
- failing to protect the assets
- improper division of assets between beneficiaries
- failing to recognize debts due from or to the estate
- family law issues
- charities that may challenge the executor
- do-it-yourself real estate transactions

If you want to know more about executor's insurance, visit There is a lot of good information for executors on their site.


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  3. That is very interesting. Typically who sues the executor? A regular lawyer, a criminal lawyer, or a personal injury lawyer? I will have to ask my lawyer in Phoenix about this. Thank you for all the info!

    1. Honestly, if some of you spammers would read your own posts, you'd realize that you sound much too idiotic for anyone to actually be tempted to contact you. Seriously, why would a criminal lawyer sue anyone? Criminal law involves crime, not suing people. Jeez. And since an executor hasn't caused personal injury, why would anyone want a personal injury lawyer? Finally, this is a Canadian blog. Nobody here is looking for a personal injury lawyer in Phoenix. Especially not ones who waste time spamming blogs with stupid messages. Normally I just delete this kind of spam but today I felt like telling you people off, so there you go.



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