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I am the executrix of my father's estate, and my brother, the only other beneficiary, refuses to pay the executrix fee.

Short Hills, NJ |

I am the executrix of my father's estate. The will has been probated, and cash distribution made to my brother and me, the two sole beneficiaries. There is not enough cash left in the estate to pay the executrix' fee, (the amount of which was reached using a standard formula) so both my brother and I are required to pay half the fee each out of our distribution. ( I am, in essence. paying myself). He, however, refuses to pay. What recourse do I have?

Thanks, James. We were using an estate attorney.

Attorney Answers 4


  1. I assume you are not using an attorney. If you were, you would not have prematurely distributed the funds to your brother, in the first place. The time has come for you to consult with an attorney now. The attorney can send a demand letter to your brother and perhaps that will show him you are serious about this. If not, then you need to decide whether it is worth suing him over these funds. Keep in mind that everything you receive as a fee is taxable and anything received as an inheritance is not. It may not make financial sense for you to pursue this, at this point.

    James Frederick

    ***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ***************************************** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state. I hope you our answer helpful!


  2. Mr. Frederick's answer is well stated. Once an estate/trust gives out funds it is almost always a problem getting any funds returned.

    Depending on how much you are due is one consideration. Is it worth it? Also, you should know that many people who act as Executor do not take a fee.

    Talk with a local probate attorney and see if you want to just call it a day.

    Good Luck!

    Legal Disclaimer: Paul A. Smolinski is licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois only, and as such, his answers to AVVO inquiries are based on his understanding of Illinois law only. His answers are for general information about perceived legal issues within this question only and no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to extend any right of confidentiality between you and Mr. Smolinski, to constitute legal advice, or create an attorney/client or other contractual relationship. An attorney/client relationship is formed only by specific agreement including an evaluation of the specific legal problem and review of all the facts and documents at issue. We try to insure the accuracy of this information, but we cannot guarantee its accuracy. The reader should never assume that this information applies to his or her specific situation or constitutes legal advice. Therefore, please consult competent counsel that practices in the subject area in your jurisdiction and who is familiar with your specific facts and all of the circumstances.


  3. You need to consult an attorney on what to do. If there was no family agreement in writing requiring payment, then absent court order no payment need be made. Of course, the cost of obtaining a court order compelling payment may be more than the payment in question. Indeed, even if there is an order requiring payment, it would only be a judgment if there are no estate assets left to deduct the payment from and of course a judgment is worth only what it is printed on.


  4. When the ill advised distribution was made to your brother was a Receipt and Refunding Bond executed? If so you may have recourse against your brother under the bond but as pointed out previously it may not be worth your while. You should sit down with a new estate attorney to review all of your options.

    Ed Smeltzer

    This answer was prepared for educational purposes only. By using this site you understand and agree that there is no attorney client relationship or confidentiality between you and the attorney responding. This site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in the subject area in your jurisdiction and with whom you have an attorney client relationship. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question or omitted from the question.

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