I think the bank is stealing my grandmother's estate.

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 17, 2016
Seth88 asked...

Hello, I am the trustee of my Grandmothers estate. The bank she had designated to watch over her estate took complete possession of all of her assets very soon after her death. The bank is now selling off all of the homes my grandmother worked her entire life for at the lowest point in the market in years. They plan on selling all of her assets and using the money to put into C.D. accounts. I know this would make my grandmother sick; she worked two or more jobs for most her life and took care of handicapped kids for years to buy an even amount of homes so that my brother and I would have an equal number of homes when we inherited them at the age of 40. The first portfolio summary I received from the bank was valued over $600,000 USD in September of 2009. The latest portfolio summary dated 6-30-10 value is barely $300,000 USD. The bank will not provide me with the information or documents of where the money has gone. This honestly makes me sick to my stomach and I know this is not what my grandmother wanted. IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO? If for some reason the bank did not want to be the administrator of the trust the responsibility would be passed to my father who shares an equal respect and appreciation of the value of my grandmothers estate. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

Seth


Expert Answers

Steve Weisman hosts the nationally syndicated radio show A Touch of Grey, heard on more than 50 stations, including WABC in New York City and KRLA in Los Angeles. He is a practicing lawyer specializing in estate planning and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. He's a public speaker and commentator who has appeared on many radio and television shows throughout the country, and he's the legal editor of Talkers magazine, the preeminent trade publication of talk radio. His latest book is The Truth About Avoiding Scams.

It appears that your grandmother either named the bank as the executor of her estate or was already the trustee of a trust that existed prior to her death and the terms of which provided for the trust's continuance. You should consult a lawyer to determine precisely the source of the bank's authority.

Generally, most banks will withdraw as a fiduciary (either executor or trustee) upon the wishes of the family. You should meet with the bank's trust department to discuss this as a possibilty and also to obtain an accounting for their financial actions.

You definitely will need a lawyer to help you. Depending on whether the bank is acting as a trustee or executor, you may be able to petition the court to have them replaced if the bank will not give in to the family's wishes and resign.