Can my father take control of my grandmother's estate from the bank?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 16, 2016
Seth88 asked...

Dear Readers, My brother and I are the beneficiaries of the bulk of my Grandmother’s estate. We are not contesting the will but we do have serious concerns with the Bank of Stockton’s fulfilling their fiduciary responsibility in regarding her estate. The Bank of Stockton, who was designated to watch over her estate, took complete possession of all of her assets immediately after her death. This bank is now selling off the majority of the homes, at the lowest point in the market in years, that my grandmother worked her entire life for. They plan on selling the majority of her assets and using the money to put into stocks and C.D. accounts. They are changing the assets to receive a very low rate of return where as placing a portion of the houses rent into C.D.’s would be profitable while maintaining stability. I know the Bank of Stockton’s decisions would make my grandmother infuriated. She worked two or more jobs for most her life as a Registered Nurse and spent decades caring for the disabled full time so she could leave a substantial inheritance for her grandchildren. She specifically bought real estate over other investments to create an even number of homes so my brother and I could receive an equal share at age 40. She wanted the homes to be cared for and rented out for income each month that was to be accrued over time. The bank is doing the polar opposite of what my grandmother intended. The first portfolio summery I received from the bank was valued over $600,000 in September of 2009. The latest portfolio summery dated 6-30-10 value is barley $300,000. 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. I am turning to you for advice or direction on how I can protect my grandmother’s life’s earnings. If for some reason the Bank of Stockton did not choose to be the administrator of the trust, the responsibility would be passed to my father. He not only shares mutual respect for my grandmother’s wishes but also has a high appreciation for the financial stability of her estate and his sons’ welfare. Is there any way my father can obtain responsibility as Trustee since it is apparent that the Bank of Stockton has drastically reduced the assets my Grandmother’s estate entrusted to their care. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time. Yours Very Sincerely,

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.

The key question here is what does the Will say in regard to the powers of the executor in regard to the management of the assets during the settlement of the estate. The bank may have a legal right or even a duty to act in a conservative manner. The language of the document certainly controls over what people's impression was of your grandmother's wishes.

The beneficiaries could also join together to request that the bank act in a different manner and provide them with a release of liability for dealing with the assets in a less conservative manner.

Finally, if all of the heirs agree, you could contact the bank and request it to resign as executor and replace the executor with someone with whom the heirs agree in regard to the management of the estate. Most banks will give in to this request.