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How do I get full disclosure about the assets in my Father's estate. My brother is,a secretive executor.

Wilmington, IL |

How long does the execotor of a will have to disclose the full terms of the will. to the beneficiaries? If they are not provided, or if it seems assets were hidden, what actions can be taken, and what is the time frame? It has been a week since my Father died.

The will has been filed and we have gone and received our own copy. It states that my brother gets thehouse and the land, but all other assets are to be divided among the 4 of us, including him. He will not tell us what the other assets are, but some of them are joint accounts, with my brother. Is he legally required to give us a list of all assets, even those that are jointly held? His lawyer is the same lawyer that was my Father's lawyer and the person who drew the will. Is this ethical or a cause for concern?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Best answer

    The executor will have 60 days after letters of office are issued to prepare an accounting and either file it with the Court (meaning you can get a copy) or send it to you and the other beneficiaries.

    Your brother having the same lawyer as your father isn't automatically unethical. However, whenever there is an unequal distribution such as this, it is worth looking into. First you should try to find out what was in the joint accounts. Often people add a son or daughter to an account not intending to make a gift, but to simply make check writing easier. Second, I would look into the circumstances under which the will was created. When was your father's will drafted? If it was done recently, I would ask the attorney if he has a copy of your father's old will. Even a copy of an old will must be filed with the court (it's not just the latest will that must be filed). Comparing the old will to the new will might give you some insight on whether your brother influenced your father to change his will.


  2. Many states put a deadline on filing the orginial will. Failure to file the will allows another interested person the right to force the filing and allows certain recovery for fees and costs for bringing the action. While extensions are commonly given continued failure to file may remove the recommended person as a potential executor (personal representative).

    In Florida an inventory has to be filed within 60 days of appointment of a personal representative. Further, the initial Petition will often give you some idea as to what your brother has found; however, you might want to research on AVVO what assets doesn't go through probate (i.e. life insurance, certain joint accounts, etc).

    A week does not seem unreasonable to me; however, if you are concerned he is moving funds you can always get a jump on him by filing yourself for probate (i.e. ask the Judge to appoint you rather than your brother). If your brother has a will he will certainly run to the Court to explain he is suppose to be in charge thus getting the ball rolling. I would recommend speaking with a probate attorney to see what remedies are available to you as each state offers different options.

    Good luck

    Legal disclaimer: Jason Waddell provides this information as general advise and recommends consulting with a local attorney as even in Florida matters may be handled differently from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Nothing herein should be construed as specific legal advise to a specific case . All content is general in nature due to the limited information given to the attorneys. . Attorneys are unable to ask the questions necessary to fully understand the legal issues faced by any particular poster. They are not tailored to any reader’s specific situation, will not be accurate in all states, and are never updated or maintained to reflect changes in the law. No person should take action based on the information provided on Avvo.com or any other law-themed website without first consulting a local attorney. Pursuant to IRS Circular 230, no online content may be used by any person to avoid taxes or penalties under the Internal Revenue Code. No information presented by anyone online is confidential in nature, and no online reading or writing will create an attorney-client relationship between you and Atty


  3. In Illinois the person who has possession of a deceased person's original will is supposed to file the will within 30 days of the person's death. It is filed with the clerk of court in the county where the deceased person lived.

    One week is kind of quick, and the family can still be grieving, including the executor. It may be advisable to schedule a family meeting for everyone to discuss the will and what steps to take to protect the estate assets. The executor is in charge, and ultimately will be responsible. However, in order to take official action the executor will need letters of office issued by the probate court.

    Letters of office are issued after a probate petition is filed. Part of the probate process includes an inventory of the probate assets - assets owned by the deceased person in their own name. There may also be assets that were co-owned with some individuals (e.g., joint tenancy real estate or bank accounts), as well as assets that may have designated beneficiaries (e.g., annuities, life insurance, bank/investment accounts, retirement accounts) or pay-on-death (POD) designations.

    If there is evidence the person named to be executor was involved in hiding assets, whether before or after the decedent's death, this information could disqualify that person from being appointed to serve as executor. If there is a suspicion this has occurred you need to look into it, but involve all family members so everyone is on the same page.

    Ultimately, you will need a lawyer to file the probate petition so the executor can be appointed by the court. If all family members/heirs are in agreement the probate process can run smoothly. This will take at least 6 months for the statutory claim period for notice to creditors. If there is disagreement about the person named executor, and a different person is nominated executor, there could be a hearing before the probate judge decides who will serve as the executor.

    The information you obtain through this answer is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. An attorney-client relationship is not established as a result of this answer to your question. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

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