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Estate Beneficiary Rights: Forcing The Executor To Act

Estate Beneficiary Rights: Forcing the Executor to Act

Post Series: Executorship in BC

The executor of a will has a handful of responsibilities when administering an estate – including accounting for all estate assets, debts, and money exchanges coming into and out of the estate. Once the executor finishes the administration process and is ready to distribute the estate to the beneficiaries, they typically need to give each beneficiary a comprehensive document that accounts for everything that has entered and left the estate. The value and complexity of the estate administration process can make this document extremely detailed and complex.

In the case of a careless executor, a beneficiary might raise questions over the process of administration.

Sometimes, an inheritance can change a beneficiary’s life, and it’s stressful when the executor isn’t managing the estate as expected. Unfortunately, some executors have committed fraud by stealing assets from the estate and not including them in their report to the beneficiaries. Beneficiaries must proceed with caution and ensure all assets are accounted for.

If you believe that the final accounts don’t properly represent the assets of the estate, there are options available:

  1. Forcing the executor to act; or,
  2. Suing on behalf of the estate.

How Can a Beneficiary Force an Executor to Act?

While beneficiaries might feel helpless during the estate administration process, they do have certain beneficiary rights. Beneficiaries have the right to the accounting information during the estate administration process. The law requires an executor to provide this information if a beneficiary requests it. Beneficiaries can keep close eyes on the estate through the accounting information if they’re suspicious of the executor’s intentions.

Passing of Accounts

When an estate asset has gone missing, it’s usually up to the beneficiaries to notice and act on it.

A beneficiary can compel the executor to act by petitioning the court for a passing of accounts. If the courts grant this motion, the executor must present to the courts all transactions, both incoming and outgoing, from the estate, from the date they took control of the estate to the date of the hearing. This process can clarify any inconsistencies in the accounts. It can track where all the estate assets went, verify what fees and debts were paid, and determine who receives what from the estate. This can be an exhaustive process, but it will show, in detail, everything that left and entered the estate accounts.

After forcing the executor to act through requesting a passing of accounts, if the beneficiary is still unsatisfied, they can sue on the behalf of the estate or look to have the executor removed.

Beneficiaries may feel they don’t have control over the estate administration process. However, they do have certain rights to ensure the process is managed correctly. If you’re a beneficiary that thinks an estate asset has been misrepresented, contact an experienced estate lawyer today to begin solving this problem sooner rather than later.

Have a question about this topic or a different legal topic? Contact us for a consultation. Reach us via phone at 250-888-0002, or via email at

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