Estate administrators are supposed to distribute assets according to the terms of the estate plan. But, what happens if they do not and use some of the money for their own ends? A recent case in the UK shows one of the possible consequences.
Eight days before he passed away, Roy Mitchell married a woman named Judith Brown. Months prior, Mitchell had already changed his estate plan to leave the bulk of his assets to Brown. However, he still stipulated that a portion of his estate was to be divided between his four grandchildren.
As the administrator of the estate, Brown’s job was to make sure that the grandchildren received their money. However, she never gave any of the funds to the grandchildren.
Instead, Brown spent it on herself. She has now been imprisoned for two years for theft.
The Daily Mail has more on the story in an article titled “‘Black Widow’ who married man on his death bed just eight days before he died is jailed for stealing his grandchild’s inheritance.”
A criminal conviction and jail time are among the potential consequences awaiting administrators who do not properly distribute an estate under their charge. An administrator can also be forced to pay the money back out of his or her own assets.
This is one reason why an administrator should have an attorney to assist with the estate. Not only can the attorney guide the administrator through the legal hoops, but he or she can help make sure all is done according to the estate plan.
In Brown’s case it appears she acted intentionally. However, even if you have no intention of mismanaging the estate, you can be held liable if things go wrong.
Again, it cannot be emphasized too emphatically – you need an attorney to help ensure everything is done correctly.
Reference: The Daily Mail (March 12, 2015) “‘Black Widow’ who married man on his death bed just eight days before he died is jailed for stealing his grandchild’s inheritance.”