People who are writing their estate plans usually choose someone they trust to administer the estate. But what happens when beneficiaries in Ontario don’t trust wills’ executors? Is there anything they can do to safeguard themselves?
The short answer is no – not directly anyway. Firstly, the decision of the testator must be respected unless there is evidence to believe an executor is being shady.
The best way beneficiaries can protect themselves is to ensure an executor is doing the job he or she is supposed to be doing. An estate administrator must always put the best interests of the estate before his or her own. There may even be some instances when it seems as if an executors actions are unethical; however, he or she may be doing things simply due to the lack of necessary knowledge for the position. Executors probate the will, pay beneficiaries once bills and taxes have been paid, and protect the estate.
They must handle the following:
- Following instructions in the estate plan
- Keeping comprehensive financial records
- Putting the interests of beneficiaries first
- Keeping their own assets separate from estate assets
It might be beneficial for a beneficiary to obtain his or her own lawyer for legal advice in these situations. A lawyer may be more apt to recognize signs of untoward behaviour. It’s important, too, to act on suspicions before an estate’s time limit expires.
Executors have to keep beneficiaries informed about what is happening with the estate, and they should also realize that beneficiaries can question them. If beneficiaries suspect executors aren’t following the instructions of a will, they should seek independent legal advice from an Ontario lawyer experienced in estate law to look into possible breach of trust issues.