Can heirs can file a motion to request the court to investigate the claims and distribution conducted by the administrator?

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Can heirs can file a motion to request the court to investigate the claims and distribution conducted by the administrator?

The heirs are not happy the way the assets are being handled. There are no creditors except for a personal claim of the administrator. However, after almost 5 years probate is till open but the heirs have not receive the share in full. Part of the estate is a real property recently sold but the administrator said she cannot distribute yet due to taxes, etc.

Asked on February 25, 2019 under Estate Planning, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Yes, because heirs have a financial interest or stake in what happens to the estate, they have "standing," or the recognizable legal right, to bring a legal action. They can bring a kind of legal action traditionally called an action for "an accounting"--to make the executor "account" for her management of the estate and actions.
Executors are obligated to follow the terms of the will. They also have a "fiduciary duty," or obligation imposed by law to be loyal to the heirs' interests and to not benefit themselves ahead of the heirs. If an executor is not following the will or violating her fiduciary duty, the court can order her to do or not do certain things (such as to complete probate); to repay monies she improperly took from or cost the estate; or can replace her as executor. 
A lawsuit like this is much more complex than, say, a small claims action. Any heirs interested in pursuing this are strongly encouraged to retain a probate lawyer to help.


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