As with most legal questions, it depends. When a judge orders someone to do something and that person doesn’t do it, the judge can hold him in contempt and put him in jail.
Failure To Pay A Debt Of The Estate
In cases where an Executor or Trustee has been ordered to pay a debt out of the estate, he can’t be put in jail if he refuses because the Texas and U.S. constitutions prohibit putting someone in jail for a debt. It doesn’t mean that the Executor or Trustee doesn’t have to pay the debt, he does. It just means that the court will have to use another method to get the debt paid such as seizing assets rather than jail.
Failure To Distribute The Assets To A Beneficiary.
However, when an Executor or Trustee refuses an order of the judge to turn over estate assets to a beneficiary, he can be put in jail if he refuses even if the asset is money. The beneficiary owns the property in question. It is not a debt. Courts reason that the Executor or Trustee is holding the assets in trust for the rightful owner, the beneficiary. The critical difference is that the Executor or Trustee possesses the property of another but refuses to deliver it to the rightful owner, despite being ordered to do so. Since it is not a debt it is off to jail he goes if he refuses. 316 sw3 787.
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By Robert Ray a Board Certified attorney. The foregoing information is general in nature and does not apply to every fact situation. We handle litigation involving inheritance disputes. We don’t prepare wills. We don’t file wills for probate or distribute estates except when we are contesting a will or protecting a will from a contest. We handle a select few cases on contingency. Don’t use a comment to ask a personal question about an inheritance issue because your name and comment will be public. To ask a litigation question and to protect your privacy, click the red button to the right.