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Aunt died without a Will. Does the Administrator of the Estate have to keep heirs informed?

Andover, MA |

The court appointed my Aunts brother as Administrator. He has a lawyer who does not give any information to the 4 heirs, however when the lawyer does answer questions they are always different stories. No paperwork is being sent to heirs on property being sold. The administrator made a deal with a "buyer" to purchase my aunts land but yet have not seen any paperwork due to the fact the "buyer" is making monthly installments until the purchase price is paid off.... i thought it was a duty and professional responsibility to send heirs copies of all paperwork?? And if we ask the lawyer there have been several stories told to us and am asked "why the concern"??? is this professional of a Lawyer to an estate???

Attorney Answers 3


Your concerns are well founded. You need to immediately retain estate counsel to protect the interests of the beneficiaries and to make sure all of these actions and one's you are not aware of are being done in accordance with the law and your wishes. Hire counsel now to let them know you mean business and to ensure that these assets are not being squandered.

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Sorry to hear. It sounds like the heir(s) should hire an attorney to represent his/her/their interests. For purposes of my answer, I assume your deceased aunt was a Massachusetts resident. Under Massachusetts law, real estate vests in the heirs of an estate. That means the heirs own the real estate. The heirs of your aunt's estate have a right to information regarding the estate. It is a breach of fiduciary duty for the administrator not to provide the heirs with such information.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice.
Circular 230 Disclaimer: Any information in this answer may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.

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The Administrator cannot convey title to your deceased aunt's real estate without getting authority from the probate court. The probate procedures do require that an administrator give notice to the heirs, so that they can review the proposed sale and object if necessary.

An article on basic probate procedures is at:

Without these extra probate proceedings, title to the real estate could not be conveyed unless all of the heirs signed a deed conveying the property.

The Administrator also has a duty to inventory and account for estate assets. Guidelines are at:

If there was no will, the heirs are the people who have a right to object to the Administrator's accounts. If the Administrator is not providing copies of the probate filings, you can go to the registry of probate, and review the file. If the estate isn't being handled properly, you can petition to have a new Administrator appointed.

However, a first step would be to hire a probate attorney in your area to review the situation, and contact the attorney who has opened the estate. After explaining the proper procedures to the attorney handling the estate, an experienced attorney may be able to clear up misunderstandings and resolve problems so that your interests are protected, without the need for additional and costly proceedings.

John L. Roberts, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Probate and Disability Law
Longmeadow, Massachusetts

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