As an Atlanta probate attorney, I often see Georgia probate estate administrators and executors turn into dishonest persons once they become administrator or executor of the probate estate. Upon qualification by the Georgia Probate Court, any administrator or executor is put into a position of power and trust over heirs, beneficiaries and others involved in the Georgia estate administration process and the assets of the Georgia probate estate. It is normal, but not wise, for heirs and beneficiaries to be trusting of the Georgia estate administrator or executor. This is especially true given the tough times are going through in this economic era and that it is wholly true that everyone could use an extra few dollars. Oftentimes, matters are made worse because many Georgia estate administrators or executors are family members, friends of family members or long trusted family friends.
In my practice as a Georgia Probate litigation and dispute lawyer, I see good people turn bad when they gain control of estate assets and have easy access to money that is not theirs. I have found this to be especially true when these estate assets include easily maneuverable items such as liquid cash, stocks, bonds, cars, jewelry, real estate and other items of great monetary value. This is especially true because these estate assets seem to be just arm lengths away from a “dip into the pot” without anyone noticing or any harm done at all. This is a common misperception of the untrustworthy administrator or executor and nothing could be further from the truth. As an Atlanta estate litigation attorney, I see and know all too well the tricks and deceptive actions of these dishonest and conniving persons. Fortunately, under Georgia probate law, these administrators and executors must adhere to and act within the scope of their fiduciary duty. Such administrators and executors are bound by the this duty almost regardless of what rights you may have been told you have signed away to them.
An administrator or executor (known as a fiduciary) has the following legal duties and obligations:
§ 53-7-1. General powers and duties of personal representative; additional powers A personal representative is a fiduciary who, in addition to the specific duties imposed by law, is under a general duty to settle the estate as expeditiously and with as little sacrifice of value as is reasonable under all of the circumstances. The personal representative shall use the authority and powers conferred by law, by the terms of any will under which the personal representative is acting, by any order of court in proceedings to which the personal representative is a party, and by the rules generally applicable to fiduciaries to act in the best interests of all persons who are interested in the estate and with due regard for their respective rights.
As an Atlanta estate litigation attorney, I see and know all too well the tricks and deceptive actions of these dishonest and conniving persons. Fortunately, under Georgia probate law, these administrators and executors must adhere to and act within the scope of their fiduciary duty. Such administrators and executors are bound by the this duty almost regardless of what rights you may have been told you have signed away to them. If any Georgia probate administrator or executor does not adhere to their fiduciary duties, there are many Georgia Code sections under Georgia probate law, which provided for punishment of the dishonest or unfair administrator or executor breaching his or her fiduciary duty:
An heir or beneficiary has the following legal remedies for a breach of any fiduciary duty:
§ 53-7-54. (Revised Probate Code of 1998) Breach of fiduciary duty
(a) If a personal representative or temporary administrator commits a breach of fiduciary duty or threatens to commit a breach of fiduciary duty, a beneficiary of a testate estate or heir of an intestate estate shall have a cause of action:
(1) To recover damages;
(2) To compel the performance of the personal representative’s or temporary administrator’s duties;
(3) To enjoin the commission of a breach of fiduciary duty;
(4) To compel the redress of a breach of fiduciary duty by payment of money or otherwise;
(5) To appoint another personal representative or temporary administrator to take possession of the estate property and administer the estate;
(6) To remove the personal representative or temporary administrator; and (7) To reduce or deny compensation to the personal representative or temporary administrator.
(b) When estate assets are misapplied and can be traced in the hands of persons affected with notice of misapplication, a trust shall attach to the assets.
(c) The provision of remedies for breach of fiduciary duty by this Code section does not prevent resort to any other appropriate remedy provided by statute or common law.
If you sense or can imagine you have, or will be, the victim of dishonest acts, deception or fraud by an administrator or executor you should immediately seek advice from an experienced Georgia probate and estate attorney. Moreover, my opinion is that you should always be on the safe side and make sure that your rights are protected and that an experienced Atlanta probate attorney is looking out for your best interests. As such, you may consider looking into seeking the representation of an experienced Georgia probate and estate law firm.
The Libby Law Firm helps heirs and beneficiaries of Georgia probate estates when an administrator or executor commits or threatens to commit a breach of their fiduciary duties. Our Firm also helps administrators and executors carry out their fiduciary duties expeditiously, fairly and cost-efficiently and keeps them out of harm’s way of the persistent and “accusation throwing” heir or beneficiary.
Our Firm has extensive experience in Georgia probate guidance; Georgia probate disputes; Georgia probate litigation matters; and, estate mediation. Please feel free to contact us (404) 467-8611 to see how we can assist you. Please also feel free to send us a confidential e-mail Web Site contact us form. The Libby Law Firm is conveniently located in the Buckhead section of Atlanta, GA near the intersection of Piedmont and Roswell Roads. Our Firm represents numerous clients from other states with matters pending in Georgia probate courts. We are here to assist you from wherever you may be located and have the technical and communicative skills to do so effectively and cost efficiently. The Libby Law Firm helps clients throughout the Metro Atlanta, Georgia area including the following: Fulton County Probate Court, in Atlanta, Georgia; DeKalb County Probate Court, in Decatur, Georgia; Cobb County Probate Court, in Marietta, Georgia; Gwinnett County Probate Court, Lawrenceville, Georgia; Fayette County Probate Court, Fayetteville, Georgia.