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Dealing with wills.
Old 07-22-2011, 03:59 PM   #1
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Dealing with wills.

I am retired and I am dealing with a situation that I need help. I am one of seven heirs to the estate of my mother. Her executor has taken eight years to send us the final accounting. Five of us have questions about the accuracy of the final numbers. We have request through his attorney copies of all of the pertinent documents, bank statements, cancelled checks, etc. Once we have all of that stuff and have gone through it and we find the errors that we think are there what should be our next step? We don't have alot of money and we are in California and the will was probated in New Jersey.
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Old 07-22-2011, 04:41 PM   #2
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I'm not an attorney Collis but I think you should contact one. I'm thinking about the
"statute of limitations"
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Old 07-22-2011, 04:53 PM   #3
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You should work through the attorney handling the estate. From my recent experience dealing with a contested estate through probate, the estate attorney has to represent all the heirs, not just the executor. The legal fees come out of the estate. If you get your own attorney, you'll be responsible for the legal fees for your attorney and will also be paying for the your portion of the estate legal fees (as an heir).

In my situation, the estate attorney made an error in the final accounting, tried to blame me for not catching his mistake and made payouts to 2 heirs. It took another 5-6 months to get it back, but ultimately, the attorney ended up fixing the problems and it didn't cost us any more out of pocket.
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Dealing with an attorney
Old 07-22-2011, 06:52 PM   #4
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Dealing with an attorney

In this case the executor has submitted his final accounting to the attorney for the estate. That attorney has forwarded the final accounting to us for our waiver and refund of bonding signatures. Unfortunately, there seems to be a number of mathematical errors and improper purchases. Not to mention the fact that there are some questionable distributions. We have requested the documents and have yet to receive them. If when we do if we find errors how shoud we proceed?
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Old 07-22-2011, 08:01 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by collis12 View Post
In this case the executor has submitted his final accounting to the attorney for the estate. That attorney has forwarded the final accounting to us for our waiver and refund of bonding signatures. Unfortunately, there seems to be a number of mathematical errors and improper purchases. Not to mention the fact that there are some questionable distributions. We have requested the documents and have yet to receive them. If when we do if we find errors how shoud we proceed?
I believe the final accounting can't be approved by a judge without all the parties signing off on the final accounting. When you get and review the documents and have proof of errors, contact the attorney (in person, email or phone) and tell him what you found. The sooner the better, of course. I think it's better to tackle this issue before signing off on the final accounting. Mine happened about 1 month after the accounting was approved and it involved more court dates which added 1+ month delays for each visit back to court.
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Old 07-22-2011, 08:30 PM   #6
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Eight years? This had better be a huge and complex estate. I've seen some pretty complicated estates, and even the worst was completed in less than 4 years. What's the reason for the hold-up?
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Old 07-22-2011, 08:35 PM   #7
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Eight years sounds like a very long time. I have heard that some Trust companies can take a very long time to settle an estate.

A waiver is signed generally to give up your rights to a hearing and agreeing that everything is proper order. It does not sound like you want to waive anything until you know exactly what is happening. It sounds like you need some legal advise.

I would expect that an estate that took 8 years to settle would be a decedent with 100's of millions of dollars having owned high rise office buildings in south america, shopping malls in florida, factories in china and have been divorced several times with offspring with each spouse and no one got along.
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Old 07-23-2011, 11:45 AM   #8
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Thank you. That is exactly what we plan to do. When and if we find errors isn't the attorney for the estate obligated to have the executor correct them either through his own pocket or through the bond? Another issue is that the executor, days prior to the final accounting, called one of the heirs and told the heir that "he had received less than the other heirs in partial distributions and that he was going to send $7k to that heir to bring him even with the others". Days later when the final accounting arrived it turns out that that heir, because of the extra $7k received too much and the executor now claims that he is responible to the other heirs for the overage. That heir argues that he never requested the additional funds, nor did he have access to the accounts to know how much he was to receive in total and there was no way he could have known that he would be over upon receipt of the $7k. Isn't the executor respondible to the estate for that error?
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Old 07-23-2011, 11:49 AM   #9
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Another issue is that the executor, days prior to the final accounting, called one of the heirs and told the heir that "he had received less than the other heirs in partial distributions and that he was going to send $7k to that heir to bring him even with the others". Days later when the final accounting arrived it turns out that that heir, because of the extra $7k received too much and the executor now claims that he is responible to the other heirs for the overage. That heir argues that he never requested the additional funds, nor did he have access to the accounts to know how much he was to receive in total and there was no way he could have known that he would be over upon receipt of the $7k. Isn't the executor respondible to the estate for that error?
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Old 07-23-2011, 01:43 PM   #10
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Just make sure the $ amount that you are contesting is enough to pay the extra legal fees involved.
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Old 07-23-2011, 07:42 PM   #11
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We are under the impression that until there is an accepted final accounting the legal fees are handled by the estate through the estate attorney.
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Old 07-24-2011, 03:36 PM   #12
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Your distribution is paid by the estate too. If you incur excessive legal fees, there will be nothing left to distribute.
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Old 07-24-2011, 06:07 PM   #13
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That may be the case however the errors might amount to as much as 200k. I think it is worth checking.
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Old 07-26-2011, 01:15 PM   #14
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I am now having trouble finding how to represent myself in NJ Surrogate's Court. I need to know how to "Contest Accounting" in NJ Surrogate Court? I am going to have to try to do this pro se because all the attorneys in NJ charge 4-5k to start even looking at the matter. Please help!
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Old 07-26-2011, 01:22 PM   #15
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Collis, no need to post the same info/question in three different forums. One is entirely sufficient.
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