From our “Ask a Question” Mailbag: What is my Burlington County Personal Representative Liability, in other words, can the Beneficiaries sue me?
Most Recently Updated July 20, 2018.
“If I agree to serve as the Personal Representative, can the beneficiaries sue me?”
Burlington County Personal Representative Liability
Serving as the estate’s Personal Representative means you will then have a fiduciary duty to all beneficiaries to act in their best interest. The position comes with broad powers. Furthermore, you are mostly unsupervised by the Surrogate.
To counter these broad powers, the beneficiaries are given the right to petition Surrogate’s Court to review every action and expense. Should the court find that any act of yours reduced their inheritance, the judge could choose to surcharge you (fine you) to make up for any loss.
Remember, the beneficiaries don’t need to “win” their case. They have a right to force an accounting as a matter of right. Keep excellent records, try to defuse disputes before they boil over, and get excellent legal advice.
Hire an Experienced Lawyer
To protect you, New Jersey rules give you the right to use estate funds to hire an experienced probate lawyer. A good probate attorney will also make sure that you receive a full release of liability from the beneficiaries. You should receive this release before giving any distributions.
A Probate Attorney can also help you obtain releases throughout the Probate. For example, if a house is being sold the beneficiaries can be asked to agree with the sale price or even sign the deed. The situation will dictate the strategy, but you can see that once they have accepted a plan of action, it becomes more difficult later to argue successfully that you made a bad decision.
Even the most friendly families can have disputes. Your Probate Attorney can help keep communications going should there be a small dispute, preventing the small dispute from becoming a large fight. At times simply having a letter come from an attorney rather than yourself can help de-escalate a potential conflict.
More Probate Questions?
Preventing Burlington County Personal Representative Liability is only part of the overall probate process. By all means, if you wish to learn more, please read my more detailed article, The Probate Process All You Need to Know.
In Conclusion: Burlington County Personal Representative Liability
I hope that this article was helpful in explaining how to prevent liability suits. Further, I included links to even more detailed information on my website. Therefore, please contact me and let me know how I did. Certainly, your comments and questions are welcome!
Let our Probate Lawyers help walk you through what can be a confusing process. To begin with, call to speak to one of our experienced Probate Attorneys. By all means, our lawyers are ready to answer your questions. In fact, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation. Ultimately our goal is to make the process as painless as possible!
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