practice areas

If you are an heir of someone’s California will and are unhappy with the way in which the estate administrator is taking the deceased’s estate through probate, can you sue him or her? The answer to that question is yes — but only under certain circumstances.

You cannot sue him or her if you simply do not agree with the provisions of the deceased’s will. That takes a will contest, which is entirely different from suing the estate administrator personally. FindLaw explains that the only ground for suing the estate administrator is if (s)he breaches his or her fiduciary duties. That means you must clearly understand what a fiduciary is and what (s)he must do.

Fiduciaries, duties and breaches

An estate administrator is a fiduciary, meaning that (s)he must act in the best interests of the estate and its heirs throughout the probate process. (S)he need not act perfectly, however. For instance, should (s)he innocently invest estate assets in something that loses money, you cannot sue him or her for her inadvertent poor judgment.

You can only sue if (s)he deliberately does one of the following:

  • Acts in his or her own best interests instead of in the best interests of the estate and its heirs
  • Gives you incomplete, inadequate, misleading or outright false information
  • Insists on pursuing a certain course of action even when (s)he knows it will negatively impact the estate and its heirs financially
  • Gives preferential treatment to one heir at the expense of you and the others

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.