Can An Executor Or Trustee Go To Jail?
As with most legal questions, it depends.
Failure To Follow An Order
When a judge orders someone to do something and that person doesn’t do it, the judge can hold him in contempt and put him in jail.
Failure To Pay A Debt Of The Estate
In cases where an Executor or Trustee has been ordered to pay a debt out of the estate, he can’t be put in jail if he refuses because the Texas and U.S. constitutions prohibit putting someone in jail for a debt. It doesn’t mean that the Executor or Trustee doesn’t have to pay the debt, he does. It just means that the court will have to use another method to get the debt paid such as seizing assets rather than jail.
Failure To Distribute The Assets To A Beneficiary.
However, when an Executor or Trustee refuses an order of the judge to turn over estate assets to a beneficiary, he can be put in jail if he refuses even if the asset is money. The beneficiary owns the property in question. It is not a debt. Courts reason that the Executor or Trustee is holding the assets in trust for the rightful owner, the beneficiary. The critical difference is that the Executor or Trustee possesses the property of another but refuses to deliver it to the rightful owner, despite being ordered to do so. Since it is not a debt it is off to jail he goes if he refuses. 316 sw3 787.