I have been going back and forth with the executor of my mothers estate over fees and charges. We finally reached a compromise which we both agreed to . The terms of the agreemewnt were that I send a signed release and she would send the distribution from the estate. After she received the release she did not send the funds and is not trying to change the terms of the agreement to a lesser amount and more documents for me to sign or once again she will withhold the distribution. It is my understanding that the email agreement would be considered legsally binding and that her refusal to send the funds after I fulfilled my obligation would be considered breach of contract. How do i take action to enforce this? I am broke which is why i agreed to this in the first place
The executor is also the attorney and a sibling of mine. Therein lies the problem. There is open hostility and pred.ujuduce towards me and she has been delaying the distribution for months until I would sign a waiver instead of filing the accounting with the court. I finally had to give in and accept an agreement due to finiancial siutation. After we had come to an agreement I asked a question about somethingon the accounting. She got angry and said she was not comfotable making the distribution if I had questions and did not send the funds after i had already sent the signed release. Now she has told me she will not be giving me the agreed upon amount and I have to sign more releases before she will send it. I am not signing anything else and want to enforce the original agreement or have her file an accounting so I can object.
Q: How do i take action to enforce this?
A: Print out the email and attach it, along with your copy of the signed original, to a petition form and take it to probate court. Tell 'em you want to enforce the settlement.
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Attorney Carrier has provided you with probably the easiest practical solution. The judge will prevent the executor from playing games. The only down side is that it will take time and cost money to do this. You are far better off working this out outside of court, if you can do so. I just do not see how that will happen, given the executor's actions, to this point.
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Elder Law Attorney
While I don't disagree with the other attorneys that the courts can enforce a settlement, it could be a lot more difficult than you'd like. I'd start by contacting the lawyer for the estate and only if that doesn't work go on to court. If the executor is the lawyer for the estate, then I wonder if your understanding of the facts is correct because it would be unusual for a lawyer to agree on a settlement and then blatantly breach the settlement agreement. You likely will have a difficult case if you are going pro se against an executor who also is a lawyer. Lawrence Friedman, Bridgewater, NJ. Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the ABA approved National Elder Law Foundation, former Chair NJ State Bar Association Elder and Disabilities Law Section, Member Board of Consultors of NJSBA Real Property, Trusts & Estates Law Section, Vice Chair Special Needs Law Section of National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and Master of Laws (L.L.M.) in Taxation from N.Y.U. School of Law.