A fiduciary can be removed because of gross mismanagement.

In a recent case, an attorney was appointed as the Independent Executor of his great uncle’s estate.  He was not a beneficiary under the will.  He hired himself to be the attorney for the estate.  The will did not provide for the attorney to receive a fee for his services.

The Inventory and Appraisement was filed over one year and seven months after he was appointed independent executor.  The probate code requires the  Inventory and Appraisement to be filed within 90 days.  He sold two parcels of the estate’s real property and paid himself nearly $100,000 as “compensation.”  Additional evidence showed that the attorney failed to pay property taxes or correct code compliance violations on the real estate after receiving notices from the city. Accordingly, the estate was charged penalties and the only remaining property in the estate was scheduled for foreclosure

due to non-payment of property taxes. Other evidence admitted in the record reflected he lent $25,000 of the estate’s money to one of his own clients. The loan was not documented. Accordingly, there was no due date for repayment by the client, no agreement to pay interest, and no collateral was provided to secure payment. The attorney had not attempted to collect any payments on this loan at the time of the hearing.

Faced with this record, the trial court removed the attorney and required him to repay the estate all of the money that he had received.  While this is a really bad case of mismanagement, almost any of the actions by the attorney listed above would require the court to remove him as the executor.

If you suspect mismanagement of an estate in which you have an interest, you should act immediately.  If you wait too long, the estate could be depleted.

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Robert Ray is the Editor and owner of this site. Board Certified, Personal Injury Trial Law — Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

We handle cases throughout Texas. Our principal office is in Lantana, Texas (DFW area).

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