Who controls the distribution of inheritance?

2 answers | Last updated: Jul 13, 2017
Amarlo asked...

When a person dies and they have left an appointed attorney and executor, who monitors the distribution of money and does the rest of the family have a right to know exact details of the finances when things don't look right? For example the attorney was only paid $3000 for a year's work and the executor, according to the paper we were given, took nothing for their services (this person has always been money hungry). The Probate Court states they have nothing to do with controlling what was in the estate account and where the money goes.

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

The executor named in a will is the one responsible for gathering and managing a deceased person's property, then distributing it as the will directs. While Probate Courts do not control individual estates or how property is distributed, they usually are the courts that hear and decide claims that an executor has abused power or mishandled probate property.

The numbers you mention are not alarming in themselves. Attorneys generally do not have an onerous amount of work to do in helping to wind up a simple estate, so a fee of $3,000 may be spot on for the work performed. And executors, especially if they are related to the deceased or were close friends, often agree to serve free of charge.

But if you have strong suspicions that some wrongdoing has taken place, you need to find out whether you are entitled to act"”and then decide whether to take action.

A preliminary step may be to do a little legwork. In most states, executors are required to file an inventory of property the deceased owned at death, any appraisals valuing that property, and a list of creditors' claims"”usually within 90 days or so after being appointed. That cursory accounting is usually a public document, so you should be able to see the information at the local probate court.

If this is the very documentation that you claim looks suspicious, then your next move may be to do a bit of legal research into the specifics of your state's law. Start with a search of the state name and "probate" and "executor ”and read the particulars of the law spelling out the executor's duties and who can contest alleged wrongdoing. . In many states, for example, only the people who would be legally entitled to take property from the deceased can file a claim. A warning here: Don't get sucked into any individual lawyer's website at this point; stick to finding out the law.

If you are entitled to know and remain convinced that there was wrongdoing, the actions you can take may range from demanding a formal accounting to asking that the executor be removed to requiring him or her to repay squandered funds. Realistically, you would likely need to hire an attorney for help with any of these steps, which will take time and money. So it is worthwhile to be sure your hunch of wrongdoing is on solid ground before you hire legal help.

Community Answers

Geo2015 answered...

Since the person responsible for gathering and managing a decedent’s property, and distributing monies to heirs, and so on, is the executor – we really need to have confidence in that executor. And that isn’t always the case. Miss Repa is certainly right… if we who are involved in an estate feel there is any wrong-doing or incompetence with an executor we need to talk to a good lawyer and move on from there.

The problem I have with so many executors, is that 99% of them have absolutely no experience with estates or inheritances or trusts or heirs or whatever… it always amazes me that there is enough mistrust about executors from so many heirs and often so much squabbling among siblings, that many heirs decide to get their own estate attorney to protect their inheritance and to give themselves more belief and trust in the inheritance and probate estate process.

And if heirs don’t have enough savings or income to hire their own lawyer… they frequently get a probate advance or an inheritance cash advance – a loan on their inheritance, and apply for fast probate cash and borrow money against inheritance with a trust fund loan or trust fund cash advance, an inheritance advance, probate advance, or probate loan… and generally will spend a day or two researching all kinds of estate loans or inheritance cash advances, estate advances, probate loans, large and small trust advances, inheritance loans and probate real estate loans – and then will apply for an inheritance advance or probate loan, probate cash advance or probate loan from one of the better known inheritance cash advance companies, or trust & inheritance loan companies that provide loans on inheritance – inheritance loan advances, probate cash advance funds and inheritance loans in advance from established inheritance loan companies such as www.heiradvance.com; or www.inheritanceadvance.com or maybe www.inheritancenow.com. Probate loans and probate advance providers that have been making inheritance cash advance funds available to heirs and beneficiaries for years. This type of probate cash or inheritance money isn’t going to convince people to trust an incompetent executor, and it won’t solve problems with other heirs or create trust with a shady lawyer… but it certainly will gives heirs a much brighter sense of things in general, and surely lowers any stress levels. And if you ask me, that’s worth the price of admission right there.