My brother-in-law is executor of my late father’s $9 million estate and refuses to give us a full accounting. What can we do?

January 12, 2022

“The executor will have to report all assets collected; all taxes, debts and expenses paid out of estate funds; all income collected; and all distributions made or to be made,” says Neil V. Carbone, trusts and estates partner at Farrell Fritz PC. “A beneficiary has a right to review the executor’s account and to demand documentary support for all transactions.”

“If something appears amiss in the executor’s accounting (e.g., certain assets were not included in the executor’s account, assets were sold at under market values, expenses appear improper), a beneficiary will have a right to object and seek a surcharge against the executor (including a reduction in or denial of compensation for having acted as such),” he adds.

Ditto your sister’s power of attorney. “The agent is always accountable to the principal,” Carbone says. “Where the principal lacks capacity, the agent will account to someone else with legal authority (e.g., a court-appointed guardian or a ‘monitor’ appointed under the power of attorney).” In other words, she must account to your mother and/or her estate.

Opportunistic siblings see the incapacity or death of a parent as a land grab. The best weapon in their arsenal is speed, as well as the presumption that their siblings will not be well enough acquainted with the law to act upon their suspicions. It may be time to hire a lawyer, and file a petition with the probate court to replace your brother-in-law as executor and sister as power of attorney.

To read the full article, please click here.

  • Related Practice Areas: Estate Litigation, Trusts & Estates
  • Featured Attorneys: Neil V. Carbone
  • Publications: MarketWatch