When a temporary administrator breaches his fiduciary duties to collect the estate’s assets and purposely depletes the estate account, the beneficiaries can take action.
nj.com’s recent article, “What to do if an estate administrator isn’t doing his job,” explains that a temporary administrator is usually appointed by a probate judge, because the named executor has died, renounced his or her rights to serve, or is unable to serve.
If a temporary administrator fails to pay the mortgage on the decedent’s home and wants to sell the property willed to the beneficiaries, the administrator can be removed for breaching his fiduciary duties.
This can be critical if the sale and foreclosure of the home is fast approaching. Be sure that you understand what the judge is supposed to do in this situation.
A temporary administrator can act in the same way as a permanent administrator on issues like the approval or disapproval of claims, payment of claims, and making sales of real or personal property for the payment of claims. A judge’s order appointing the temporary administrator can stipulate the powers, rights, and duties of the temporary administrator.
However, typically a temporary administrator is required to provide a bond in the full amount required of a permanent administrator when appointed.
The probate judge has the authority to remove a temporary administrator, if he or she has failed to perform his or her duties. If the mortgage hasn’t been paid, the beneficiaries’ attorney would provide the judge with additional facts as to why the temporary administrator seeks to sell the house.
There may be, for example, insufficient liquid assets in the estate to pay the mortgage after the payment of the deceased person’s debts, taxes, fees and commissions.
However, if the probate judge agrees that the temporary administrator has wasted the estate assets, the judge can remove the temporary administrator. The judge can also enter an order directing the administrator to take specific actions to solve the issue. This can include imposing a “surcharge” against the administrator.
If this situation arises, a beneficiary should be sure that his or her probate attorney is following up with the courts because time is of the essence.
Reference: nj.com (September 5, 2019) “What to do if an estate administrator isn’t doing his job”