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Probate litigation: Executor ousted for converting assets

Probate litigation takes place regularly in Ohio and other states. It pertains to disputes between heirs and others over a decedent's estate. When a person with assets dies, his or her estate is filed for probate with the county probate court. This may be done with or without a will. There are numerous reasons for probate litigation to flare up.

One group of relatives of the decedent may challenge the will if it leaves all assets to another group of relatives. Persons cut out of a will may challenge the estate due to alleged undue influence being exerted against the maker of the will. In some cases, one family member may challenge another one who has been acting as executor of the estate.

For example, in Manhattan the court recently removed the existing executor of the estate of a well-known deceased artist and collector in favor of the decedent's daughter. The artist, C.C. Wang, had appointed his grandson as executor of the estate. Recently, the daughter filed a petition to have him removed on the basis that he allegedly stole more than 20 paintings and suspiciously dealt with nearly 100 other works of art.

The initial estate listed the grandson and his father as heirs. The daughter claimed that they used undue influence to oust her as an heir and include themselves. The artist had been 96 when he died in 2003. In April 2017, the daughter won on a trial pertaining to her claims that the executor had exerted undue influence on her father.

She followed that up with the current petition to oust the grandson and appoint herself to be the new executor of the estate. The executor can be ousted, fined and even prosecuted where there has been wrongful self-dealing in the affairs of an estate. The steps in the foregoing case are commonly seen in probate litigation, including in  the Ohio probate courts.

Source: artnews.com, "Amid 15-Year Legal Dispute, New Executor Named for Artist and Collector C. C. Wang's Estate", Alex Greenberger, Feb. 27, 2018

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