So, your mother passed away, and your older brother was named Executor in her Will. Being the Executor is not an easy job. Among other things, it involves: 1. identifying and valuing all your mother’s assets; 2. using those assets to pay off all her outstanding debts and expenses; and 3. last, but certainly not least, distributing to the beneficiaries whatever assets remain after all debts and expenses are paid. Unfortunately, disputes between the Executor and beneficiaries are not uncommon.
For example, you may feel that your brother is keeping information from you; or paying himself too much from the estate for serving as Executor; or is making bad decisions – like waiting too long to sell your mother’s house. So, what can you do?
First of all, stay calm. You will not be left in the dark. Information is coming your way. When someone passes away, the Will is “admitted” to probate court, at which time the court officially appoints the Executor. Within 60 days of having been appointed, the Executor must, among other things, provide a copy of the Will, or information on how to obtain a copy of the Will, to all next of kin and beneficiaries named in the Will. This is obviously critical information. Also, at the end of the estate administration process, you can request an accounting of all the assets collected and all the debts and expenses that were paid out. However, please note, the administration process can take a year or more to complete. Closing down an estate is, in many cases, a long process. So you need to be patient.
Second, try to maintain a cordial relationship with your brother. Shouting and accusations will get you nowhere. If you keep things civil, you may get more information in a more timely manner. And, if discussions with your brother leave you dissatisfied, you can certainly seek professional advice. But, no matter what you choose to do, try to keep things cordial. It’s easier on everyone.
Always keep the end in mind. You want the estate properly settled; you want to receive your legitimate due. Making this a battle of wills, or trying to work out sibling rivalry issues, is not the point here. This is about satisfactorily settling your mother’s estate, and moving on to live the best life you can.
Getting Legal Help
Experienced Estate Planning Atorney, Elga A. Goodman, can help you with all aspects of estate planning and issues pertaining to Wills. Contact us today at 973-841-5111.
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