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What to do when a trustee is not doing their job

When a loved one dies in Michigan, and you learn that he or she left behind a legacy, you naturally have the expectation that he or she chose the right person to manage his or her estate. However, if the choice for executor is not honoring his or her fiduciary duty to the testator and other beneficiaries by following the instructions outlined in the testator’s will, you may find yourself wondering what you can do to rectify the situation. After all, doing nothing and waiting and hoping that the executor gets his or her act together can cause you and the other beneficiaries to miss out on your inheritances. 

Here is a brief overview of what you can do when an executor breaches their fiduciary duty

Meet with beneficiaries and estate trustee 

You should meet with the other beneficiaries and trustee to discuss the situation. Inform everyone about your concerns regarding the executor’s conduct and actions. Find out if there are obstacles that are preventing the testator from performing his or her obligations in accordance with the law and your deceased relative’s estate documents. Being an executor is a huge responsibility that also requires a substantial investment of time. The solution could be a simple one, such as the executor rearranging his or her schedule so as to give full attention to the testator’s estate affairs. If meeting with the estate administrator fails to yield results, you may need to get the courts involved. 

Ask for an accounting of the estate 

If you cannot get the executor to keep you informed about your deceased family member's estate, you can petition the courts for an inventory and accounting of it. Once the courts grant permission, you and the other beneficiaries can assess the records to determine if the executor is doing his or her job. If the accounting records show that the trustee was not doing the job accurately, you and your family may apply to have that person stripped of the executor duties or to limit the duties to keep the executor from mismanaging the estate. 

In addition to having the option of removing an executor, you may also file to be a co-executor and have the courts appoint a judicial one. If you are having trouble with a deceased relative’s executor abusing their responsibilities, you should speak to an attorney to learn your options.

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