When someone agrees to serve as the personal representative for an estate, that individual will essentially become a fiduciary, holding some important responsibilities to the beneficiaries moving forward.
While fiduciaries have certain obligations and are required to serve the interests of beneficiaries and an estate, however, not all of them do – and knowing the signs of fiduciary breaches can be important to understanding when it’s time to consult a lawyer and consider proceeding with a breach of fiduciary lawsuit.
Red Flags a Personal Representative Has Breached His or Her Fiduciary Duties
1 – The personal representative can’t give you clear answers about the status/dealings of an estate.
Here are some common signs that a personal representative may have breached fiduciary duties in probate, our Pueblo estate & probate attorneys explain.
One of a personal representative’s primary responsibilities will be to carefully manage the estate as it moves through probate, keeping detailed records regarding the status of the estate at every stage of the process.
Although a personal representative may need to consult records to give you a specific answer about a particular asset or issue, however, be weary when these answers seem intentionally misleading or purposefully ambiguous. This could be an indication that a personal representative has mishandled some aspect of the estate and is trying to prevent you from finding out about it.
2 – The personal representative seems to be favoring certain parties.
Among the duties of personal representatives is to act unbiasedly with all beneficiaries/creditors of an estate and in all dealings of the estate. If the personal representative seems to only be repaying certain creditors or satisfying the interests of certain beneficiaries (possibly at the expense of others), this too can be another warning sign that the personal representative has breached his fiduciary duties.
3 – The personal representative’s math doesn’t add up.
Another important aspect of what personal representatives do is keeping detailed accounting records of all income to and expenditures of an estate. This should include, for instance, details about how much estate taxes were paid, how much was paid to specific creditors and what (if any) income has come into the estate.
If the accounting records seem to be missing details or the math in these records simply does not add up, again, it may be time to consult with a lawyer and dig a little deeper to find out if the fiduciary has, indeed, breached his or her duties.
4 – The personal representative doesn’t have documents backing up the transactions of an estate.
Part of the accounting responsibility discussed above involves retaining documents associated with the transactions of an estate, such as invoices, bills, receipts, canceled checks, etc. When these documents are missing and there does not seem to be a reasonable explanation as to why they are missing, this can be another warning sign that a personal representative has failed to carry out his fiduciary duties.
Contact the Trinidad and Pueblo Estate & Probate Attorneys at Gradisar, Trechter, Ripperger & Roth
Do you suspect a personal representative of breaching his fiduciary duties? Or are you a personal representative who needs assistance executing your fiduciary duties and getting through probate? If so, the Trinidad and Pueblo estate & probate attorneys at Gradisar, Trechter, Ripperger & Roth are ready to provide you with the highest quality legal services.
To learn more about our superior legal services and how we can assist you, contact us by calling (719) 556- 8844 or by emailing us using the contact form on this page.
From our offices based in Pueblo, we represent clients in Trinidad, La Jara, Lamar, Walsenburg, Alamosa and throughout the state of Colorado.