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Old 10-03-2011, 08:50 AM   #101
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The will does specifically state that I should be compensated $5000 for performing duties as executor.
If there are other heirs involved... I would not do the job for $5k... I don't care how simple it looked. If I were doing it... it would be because it were my parents wishes or the other possible executors cannot be trusted or are incompetent and I might lose part of my inheritance due to their actions.


IMO - taking the fee... it depends. If the estate is really simple and does not take a lot of effort and everyone is playing nice... I would probably take nothing. But, I would still make sure to be reimbursed for out of pocket expenses that might occur. Keep records!!

You might find that the $5k winds up just being reimbursement for things that you are unwilling to request reimbursement but in a way is an intangible cost. For example: If you have to take several vacation days to get the job done. Perhaps you get paid for vacation... but it is hardly a vacation (fun and leisure)... it is work.


Make no mistake.... it often involves real effort and decisions could and probably will be criticized.

I would recommend that you not bring that issue up till the very end just in case you decide you should take it because of the level of effort or pain going through the process. IOW - if you decide to announce that you are going to waive the fee... do it at the very end... not the beginning!
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Old 10-03-2011, 09:48 AM   #102
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That's where my strongest memories come from...
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Old 10-03-2011, 09:51 AM   #103
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I don't think my mother knew what would transpire after her death. If either of us had, I do not think I would have agreed to be Trustee of the trust her will established. Most of her assets were titled to the trust prior to her death...so the executor did not have that much to do....other than the tax returns and the estate filing. Meaning my twin sister who was the executor didn't have to handle the bulk of the assets.
It was disheartening and stressful....when our older sister..went on a rampage undermining all decisions, threatening me, trying to force me to make decisions before I could get a handle on what her true motivations were..and/or what the net affect would be on all the beneficiaries of her trust....etc.
I did not take any fees.....at first....and for over 2 years. But then I hired a lawyer for the trust and I did take fees...because it was a time consuming job. Her trust held real estate and family business company stock. Had I not hired the lawyer....and listened to him....about the potential worst case scenario...my other siblings and I would not have received what my mom had wanted. A little hard to explain here.....but suffice it to say that my lawyer....let me know....if I distributed the stock too early to the beneficiaries.....then my mothers trust potentially would not have the cash....to pay my fathers estate it's proportionate share of the death tax. My older sister then could...at my fathers death (which was 4 years later), demand my mothers stock be transferred to my fathers estate in lieu of cash. This would have put 20% of company ownership in my oldest sisters hands. Since she was executor of my fathers estate, she absolutely WOULD have distributed that stock to herself....giving her controlling interest in the family business.
As it was..she did everything she could "with her own lawyers"....to get me to distribute the cash in my mothers trust to the beneficiaries...voting against my using it to satisfy the tax portion due to my fathers estate which would have given her that control. But my lawyer found a little known code allowing me to use it that went unchallenged by her lawyer. This is when my other siblings and I knew her true intent...which was to harm the rest of us. I went thru 7 years....of criticism from her....and for my trustee decisions....for it all to come to light. At which point in time, I was thanked by my other siblings.
And thank goodness....with the help of my lawyer...I had made the decision 5 years earlier to turn the marital trust into an ESBT trust...the characteristics of which allowed the trust to accumulate income rather than distributing to beneficiaries and gave the Trustee (me) the right to keep the stock characterized as Sub -S stock and not C-corp stock. Had I chosen the tradition choice of a QSST trust....I would have had to distribute the income and the company status choice could have been changed by the beneficiary which was my Dad at the time ...who had been threatening to turn the company into a C -corp. I now understand why both my Dad and my sister were furious at me for that decision. It was that single decision.....that evidently screwed with my older sisters plans.
It only takes one sibling/beneficiary ...to make it a miserable....job.
I charged fees...even though I originally never intended to do so.
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Old 10-03-2011, 09:52 AM   #104
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If other family members have keys, you may need to consider restricting access.
I had one sibling that wanted to "help" and he had access to the house. I didn't really trust him and he proved it. He kept going in and taking items and I asked if he took something, to let me know. He would deny it repeatedly and then I had the locks rekeyed. Then came complaints to the attorney to have his 20yr futon returned (of course he never took it when he had access), I'm sure it was a ruse to see what else he could grab. He ended up blowing off the attorney after 5-6 attempts to get it back.
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Old 10-03-2011, 03:33 PM   #105
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That's the exact kind of nonsense that occurred with my mothers husbands adult kids when he died. They fought tooth and nail for all kinds of things that they weren't entitled to. We believe they removed a more recent copy of the will from their father's office that basically left everything to my mother and nothing to them. The last copy that could be located still ended up with my mother getting the bulk of everything, but they fought for 3 years when even their own attorney told them they couldn't win.

It was so bad that my mother's will specifically states that her dead husbands kids get nothing because even though there would be no reason for them to get anything since they aren't her heirs. She was that worried that they would try to come back after what they believe was theirs the next time a court was involved (and they still may if they find out my mother died before the will gets probated).

Here's another wrinkle. I just realized that the bulk of my mothers cash assets were in her bank account to which I am the sole beneficiary with survivorship rights. My 2 siblings that are listed as heirs in the will know about this money but dont know anything about the survivorship rights. I still plan to split this money evenly with them, but I dont plan to say anything at all about it until the whole process is finished in case unexpected some major war breaks out.
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Old 10-03-2011, 04:46 PM   #106
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Here's another wrinkle. I just realized that the bulk of my mothers cash assets were in her bank account to which I am the sole beneficiary with survivorship rights. My 2 siblings that are listed as heirs in the will know about this money but dont know anything about the survivorship rights. .
My condolescenses on your mother's passing. Having gone through this experience a couple of years ago, I can appreciate the situation you find yourself.
Having access to your Mom's checking balance is excellent news and provides you with great flexibility in meeting the various costs you will have--everything from copies of death certificates to court filings. When my mom passed away, I was also listed a joint owner. Gave the bank a copy of the death certificate and account was shifted to my name solely. I also included as part of the assets of the estate but having access to some cash made the administration expenses much easier to deal with.
+1 on keeping good records, does not have to be fancy, just a ledger will do. Once I filed for a tax ID for the estate,(can do online with the IRS), I open a checking account for the estate and made sure all expenses were covered with funds from the account.
Something no-one has mentioned is to run a check on unclaimed funds for your Mom's and her deceased husband's SS # for her state and any others if she lived there recently. I uncovered a couple of grand she had lost track of. More paperwork, but worth the effort given the recovery.
Good luck on your new role
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Old 10-04-2011, 08:59 AM   #107
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Having 24 hours to think about this, I'd like some opinions. My mother's will states that her estate be split 3 ways with one sibling being left nothing. My mother and my brother had no relationship the past 25 years. However, she had an IRA that when all is said and done will be about 13% of her assets and the beneficiary info lists all 4 kids equally so my brother will get about 3-3.5% due to my mother not changing her beneficiary info. No big deal in my opinion. I have no idea if he knows about the rest of the money she has or not, but I doubt it.

Now comes the sticky part. My mother has lived right around the corner from me for the past 3 years or so. She progressively got less mobile and more dependant on my wife and I. The past 6 months she didnt leave the house without one of us. We did all her grocery shopping, took her to doctor appts, cleaned her house once a week, cooked her meals several times a week, ect. We were available to her at all times and frequently got calls asking to pick her up things at the last minute. Things got progressively worse and she needed us to do more and more. The day we found her on the couch unable to move, we literally had to carry her into the shower, undress her and rinse her off due to her having not made it to the bathroom for some time. Trust me this is not something you want to do with your mother when you are a man. (Im not complaining, just painting a picture).

My sister lives out of town and had seen her twice in the past 2 years on holidays. My brother lives 5 miles away and had been to her house once since she moved next to me. When we took her to the emergency room last week, he didn't come.

When she bought this house near me she still owned her other house. She only sold it about 4 months ago and she put the entire cash amount into her bank account. I told her several times that she needed to put it somewhere else, CDs, money market, bond fund...whatever..and each time she said she just wanted to "leave it there for now" and would never elaborate. We talked about money openly.

Yesterday I found out that I am the sole person with rights of survivorship to the bank account. This money is legally mine, but morally I don't know if it is or not. Did she purposely leave it there to repay my wife and I for everything we did for her? I don't know. This bank account is a bit over half of her total assets and my brother and sister know about it. They just don't know any details.

I struggle with how to handle this. I really want to do what my mother would have wanted. Do I think I deserve more than they do? Well, I did 50 times more than they did for my mother, but I wasn't expecting to be paid for it.
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Old 10-04-2011, 09:11 AM   #108
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I think the answer to your delimma lies in how you answer the following two questions:

What type of relationship do I want to have with my siblings in the future? Retaining 100% of the assets in your mom's checking account will probably result in some stress in your relationship with them going forward.

Will my conscience be clear if I keep the money? That little voice in your head can be very tough to live with if you don't like what it's saying...
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Old 10-04-2011, 09:12 AM   #109
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utrecht.....here is my quick 2 cents.
That money is legally yours. If you asked a good estate lawyer, this is what he might say. Any money out of this account that you give to your other siblings is legally considered "a gift" for estate purposes. And that brings up all sorts of things...like gift tax returns, particularly if it exceeds the yearly amount allowable for gifting (which I think is now $13K per person) And it may not even be the estate that has to file the gift return. Since the money is legally yours...it might be you that has to do the gift filing.
I am 100% certain....that it would be considered "a gift". We had a similar situation too....and that was the answer we received from one of the best estate lawyers
in Richmond, Va.
I suggest following the will and the beneficiary designations to the letter. Your Mom knew you were on the account and for all you know she wanted you to have it. Another reason...you really might want a good estate lawyer. It would not cost much to sit for an hour or two with a good estate lawyer and get his take.

When you do her final estate tax filing, all beneficiaries and the disbursements to them are listed. A copy of the will is also attached. At least, this is how ours was done.

Also utrecht...you can not help how your mother left things. All you can do is follow the will and the beneficiary designations. Your hands might be somewhat tied on this decision. If that makes your siblings mad...I am sorry. You could offer ...to make them a gift of $13K a piece. When you choose to let them know about this, it might be to your advantage to have the lawyer write a letter with an insert of what the law is regarding beneficiary designations....to help take it off of you somewhat.
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Old 10-04-2011, 09:20 AM   #110
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Yesterday I found out that I am the sole person with rights of survivorship to the bank account. This money is legally mine, but morally I don't know if it is or not. Did she purposely leave it there to repay my wife and I for everything we did for her? I don't know. This bank account is a bit over half of her total assets and my brother and sister know about it. They just don't know any details.
I'm not a lawyer. Isn't the money in this account part of the estate? If so, wouldn't it be subject to the dispositions of the will?
Quote:
My mother's will states that her estate be split 3 ways with one sibling being left nothing.
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Old 10-04-2011, 09:27 AM   #111
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I'm not a lawyer. Isn't the money in this account part of the estate? If so, wouldn't it be subject to the dispositions of the will?
No, bank account rights of survivorship bypasses will and probate. Ownership is transferred at time of death. The only time they're included is if there's no will and/or no beneficiary designation. I should add there were several accounts left to me, joint tenancy w/rights of survivorship, POD and no beneficiaries listed. The one w/no beneficiaries was the only one that was included in the estate.
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Old 10-04-2011, 09:34 AM   #112
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No, bank account rights of survivorship bypasses will and probate. Ownership is transferred at time of death. The only time they're included is if there's no will and/or no beneficiary designation.
+1......
This is also why....a will or trust is only one piece of how things will be disbursed.

For utrecht:
Your brother is listed on the IRA. He is going to get his legal portion of this account. Same applies to the large bank account of which you are the legal owner by right of survivorship.
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Old 10-04-2011, 09:39 AM   #113
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+1......
This is also why....a will or trust is only one piece of how things will be disbursed.

For utrecht:
Your brother is listed on the IRA. He is going to get his legal portion of this account. Same applies to the large bank account of which you are the legal owner by right of survivorship.
I'm not going to fight my brother. The law says he is entitled to 25% of the IRA even though I know that's not what my mother wanted.

I know I am the legal owner of the bank account but I don't know if that's what my mother wanted or not. She was a very savvy person so I think she may have done it on purpose. If she did, it was a very nice thing to do for me, but not a very nice thing to do TO me. I'm also fairly certain that she didnt tell my brother he was excluded from the will which is another not very nice thing to do to me since now I am going to be the one stuck with telling him.
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Old 10-04-2011, 09:52 AM   #114
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I know utrecht. You have a couple of very sticky things to have to handle. I do not know (and don't need to know) how much cash is in this account.
While you may have no option regarding the estate. Only you can decide if gifting to your siblings $13K each year to make up the difference is what you want to do. There are all sorts of ways to put more gifted money into their hands. You can write checks to each for $13K. You can also write checks for $13K to each of their family members, who can then turn around and write a check to the designated person. You can do one set of checks this year and as soon as Jan1 hits, you can turn around and do it again. That way you avoid gift tax returns.
Only you can decide. I wish you well on this.

Oh...and it will take you either 6 or 9 months (without an extension) to get the Estate filing done. Meaning, you have that much time if you elect to take it. Be prepared for it to take another 9 months or more after filing, to receive what is called "the closing letter" from the federal government before the estate is considered "closed".
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Old 10-04-2011, 10:14 AM   #115
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Why will the estate filing take 6-9 months? I hired a probate lawyer yesterday and he said the entire ordeal will be over in 3-4 weeks. Maybe its different in different states?

The only lingering issue will be the fact that she didn't file tax returns the past 2 years. I plan to contact the IRS today and see what they say. I have a friend whose mother died after having been put on a payment plan for back taxes and the IRS worte off the debt when she died.
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Old 10-04-2011, 10:30 AM   #116
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Why will the estate filing take 6-9 months? I hired a probate lawyer yesterday and he said the entire ordeal will be over in 3-4 weeks. Maybe its different in different states?

The only lingering issue will be the fact that she didn't file tax returns the past 2 years. I plan to contact the IRS today and see what they say. I have a friend whose mother died after having been put on a payment plan for back taxes and the IRS worte off the debt when she died.
Maybe your state law differs, but in IL, you have to file a 6 month public notification ad in a "major newspaper" for all to see and file claims against the estate. The major paper in my case was some legal newspaper for attorneys I never saw before.
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Old 10-04-2011, 10:50 AM   #117
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I would ask what was her intent when she put your name on the account

One day I took my mom to the bank to get something out of the safe depost box.... she put my name on the box and the lady asked 'do you want him on your account?'.... she said 'sure'... now, I am legally the owner of this account if she dies (but it is her checking account and there is not a lot of money as I will not let it sit there).... but, I was there when she put my name on the account and it was NOT her intention to leave this money to me.... it was to allow me to write checks etc. in case she can not...

So, with this knowledge I would put the account in her estate to distribute to everybody... you have to make up your own mind as to your mothers intent....


As others have said, the IRA is a no brainer... I doubt that you could even prevent your brother from getting this money as they have to follow the paperwork they have... all you do is provide the info to them and they distribute....

Also, why you keep the estate open and hold cash for awhile is just in case.... who knows what tax or other liability that might come up... better to hold some back and distribute later than distribute now and hope to get some back if you need it....
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Old 10-04-2011, 10:58 AM   #118
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Why will the estate filing take 6-9 months? I hired a probate lawyer yesterday and he said the entire ordeal will be over in 3-4 weeks. Maybe its different in different states?
Since we're older, we've gone through a few of these estate settlement processes.

In our state (PA), it took (on average) 9-12 months to settle the respective estates. That was with a traditional will (no trust), including the time to file the final state income tax/estate documents.
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Old 10-04-2011, 11:25 AM   #119
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Why will the estate filing take 6-9 months? I hired a probate lawyer yesterday and he said the entire ordeal will be over in 3-4 weeks. Maybe its different in different states?

The only lingering issue will be the fact that she didn't file tax returns the past 2 years. I plan to contact the IRS today and see what they say. I have a friend whose mother died after having been put on a payment plan for back taxes and the IRS worte off the debt when she died.
utrecht....check with the clerk of court. When I said the filing could take 6 to 9 months, what I meant was this is the amount of time the federal government typically gives you. There are federal deadlines after the Date Of Death. You could do it sooner than the deadline, provided you have done all that is required in your jurisdiction.

It has typically taken 6 to 9 months to get the closing letter from the government. This may have changed in the last 5 years. The explanation given to us is that there is a backlog of examiners, closing out these filings.
Yours could be different if no tax is owed. Don't know. Just be prepared in case it takes that long.
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Old 10-04-2011, 11:32 AM   #120
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So, with this knowledge I would put the account in her estate to distribute to everybody... you have to make up your own mind as to your mothers intent....
Not sure he can do this. Not sure he can take something that is his, titled to him and route it to the estate. It legally does not belong to the estate. Or perhaps it does with him as beneficiary. I would think, however, the money slid to him at Date Of Death since it was a "right of survivorship" situation.
Any accountant, probably would not include this in the final tax filing.

I'm couching my statements with "not sure" because utrecht, I'd rather you get a professional opinion on this rather than take our words for it. (but I'm 99.9% sure )

Believe it or not,utrecht, if you do by chance route it to the estate, technically you may be "gifting" to the estate and you may get hit with a gift tax return and gift taxes. Please be careful so you know all ramifications for any step you take.
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