What Can I Do if the Executor Doesn't File the Will and Sells Property of the Estate?
It may be possible to file a demand for filing of the will and/or ask the court to compel an accounting and/or injunctive relief to prevent sale of property. Injunctive relief consists of a court order called an injunction, requiring an individual to do or not do a specific action. It must be proven that without the injunction, harm will occur which cannot be remedied by money damages. To issue a preliminary injunction, the courts typically require proof that
(1) the movant has a ‘strong’ likelihood of success on the merits;
(2) the movant would otherwise suffer irreparable injury;
(3) the issuance of a preliminary injunction wouldn't cause substantial harm to others; and
(4) the public interest would be served by issuance of a preliminary injunction.
Fiduciaries, such as agents and executors, owe two main duties to their clients: a duty of loyalty and a duty of care. The duty of loyalty requires that fiduciaries act solely in the interest of their clients, rather than in their own interest. Thus fiduciaries must not derive any direct or indirect profit from their position, and must avoid potential conflicts of interest. The duty of care requires that fiduciaries perform their functions with a high level of competence and thoroughness, in accordance with industry standards.
The elements of a cause of action for breach of fiduciary duty are:
(1) Plaintiff and Defendant share a relationship whereby:
(a) Plaintiff reposes trust and confidence in Defendant, and
(b) Defendant undertakes such trust and assumes a duty to advise, counsel and/or
(2) Defendant breaches its duties to Plaintiff; and
(3) Plaintiff suffers damages.
The elements of a claim for breach of fiduciary duty are not fixed as the claim may arise from virtually any case where one party accepts the trust and assumes the duty to protect a weaker party.
Affirmative defenses to a claim for breach of fiduciary duty can include, but are not limited to:
(1) The passing of the statute of limitations for filing the claim.
(2) Lack of fiduciary relationship (for example, when the parties did not enter a fiduciary relationship, but rather conducted business in an arm’s length transaction there is no duty to protect the other party or disclose facts which the other party could have discovered by its own diligence.)
(3) Lack of standing
(4) Approval (for example, if the alleged actions followed full disclosure to and the consent of the Plaintiff)
(5) Business judgment rule (ex. that the corporate fiduciary's actions were motivated by a bona fide interest in the well being of the corporation where shareholders are the ones owed the fiduciary duty)
Please see the following AZ statutes:
14-3204. Demand for notice of order or filing concerning decedent's estate
Any person desiring notice of any order or filing pertaining to a decedent's estate in which he has a financial or property interest may file a demand for notice with the court at any time after the death of the decedent stating the name of the decedent, the nature of his interest in the estate and the demandant's address or that of his attorney. The demandant shall mail a copy of the demand to the personal representative if one has been appointed. After filing of a demand, no order or filing to which the demand relates shall be made or accepted without notice as prescribed in section 14-1401 to the demandant or his attorney. The validity of an order which is issued or filing which is accepted without compliance with this requirement shall not be affected by the error, but the petitioner receiving the order or the person making the filing may be liable for any damage caused by the absence of notice. The requirement of notice arising from a demand under this provision may be waived in writing by the demandant and shall cease upon the termination of his interest in the estate.
14-3607. Order restraining personal representative
A. On petition of any person who appears to have an interest in the estate, the court by temporary order may restrain a personal representative from performing specified acts of administration, disbursement or distribution, or may exercise any powers or discharge any duties of his office, or may make any other order to secure proper performance of his duty, if it appears to the court that the personal representative otherwise may take some action which would jeopardize unreasonably the interest of the applicant or of some other interested person. Persons with whom the personal representative may transact business may be made parties.
B. The matter shall be set for hearing within ten days unless the parties otherwise agree. Notice as the court directs shall be given to the personal representative and his attorney of record, if any, and to any other parties named defendant in the petition.