I am a coexecutor of an estate that has 3 other executors

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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I am a coexecutor of an estate that has 3 other executors

All 4 executors are also the sole 4
beneficiaries. 3 decided to take all monies in
estate account and repair the home of the
deceased in a stated effort to make more money on
the sale of the property. It has been 16 months
since the probate started and they will not list
the real estate for sale. What can or should I do
to get this estate closed with the other
executors or should I resign and let probate
court deal with them?

Asked on April 26, 2018 under Estate Planning, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

All executors have a "fiduciary duty" to act not just loyally to the interests of all heirs or beneficiaries, but to also act in a reasonably prudent mannter. If you believe that their investments and delays are not reasonably prudent--that is, not a reasonable or wise economic or financial decision under the circumstances--you could bring a legal action in court for an "accounting": to make the other executors account for their actions. A court could order that they list the house or even that they contribute money out of pocket to compensate for the costs and delays they have caused IF the court decides this is an imprudent course of action.
There is no way to say in advance what a court will do: it depends on the facts. A 16-month delay and, say $80,000 in repairs (plus, say, another $30k in "carrying costs") in order to reasonably likely increase the sale price from, say, $300k to $500k is a reasonable decision: it's an effective investment of $110k to make an extra $200k, producing a $90k return or additional profit. But if they were doing this (net of $110k in repairs and carrying costs) to just make $100k or so, that is NOT reasonable. How a court would find, were you to bring an action, will depend on the facts and situation.

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