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Mother has named me as executor, but I am in a distant state

Chicago, IL |

Ideally, she would find an executor closer to home, but it is important to her that I serve, and it would be unthinkable for me to decline her request. To complicate matters, she is a person of wealth, and her estate is likely to be complex. So my question is, what resources can I line up ahead of time to assist me in administering her estate, so I will hit the ground running, so to speak? In addition to monetary wealth, her resources include a substantial amount of valuable art and jewelry.

Attorney Answers 4


  1. First, you would be wise to make sure your mother's assets are in a Trust so that probate will not be necessary. On the other parts, if the estate is over 5.25M, I dont want to comment and your mom should really be seeking advice from an experienced estate planning attorney in her area. If the amount is less and taxes are not going to be an issue, having everything pictured and inventoried could be of great assistance.

    There really isnt a ton you can do as a prophylactic measure or to prepare. What would be helpful would be a small joint account outside the trust so you have funds to get up and running to hire an attorney and deal with funeral expense and such. In addition, you should ensure that your mother has proper powers of attorney in place and the nomination of a conservator or guardian should she lose capacity and require one.

    You may also want to find out from your mom where she keeps all important paper such as tax returns, insurance policies, records of bank accounts, etc.

    The general advice above does not constitute an attorney-client relationship: you haven't hired me or my firm or given me confidential information by posting on this public forum, and my answer on this public forum does not constitute attorney-client advice. IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: In order to comply with requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. While I am licensed to practice in New York and California, I do not actively practice in New York. Regardless, nothing said should be deemed an opinion of law of any state. All readers need to do their own research or pay an attorney for a legal opinion if one is necessary or desired.


  2. In the first instance, if your mother has been working with an estate planning attorney, that attorney should be able to provide you with some resources. Are you the only beneficiary or are there multiple beneficiaries who would receive a portion of her estate? If the latter, and if your mother is still in good health, it would actually be very helpful to the future Executor (you) to have her specify who should get which pieces of art and jewelry. She would have to execute a new will or codicil to make this binding (or by memorandum if she has a trust), but it would go a long way toward distributing her estate later.

    Separately--and I don't know if she is in a terminal medical condition and this is why you are trying to line up resources now--but there are art and jewelry appraisers who can help you determine value for purposes of dividing up the estate by percent value. Whether they will still be in business when your mother passes or not, I don't know.

    Finally, if your mother does not have an estate planning attorney (which she should, especially if she has a sizeable estate), then you can start interviewing probate attorneys in the county where she resides and be well on your way to selecting one to assist you at the appropriate time.

    ***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 Illinois and have an office in Kane County. 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 this answer helpful.


  3. All good advice from the other attorneys - your mother's current lawyer should be willing to help his client (mom) and you have a smooth transition (with her consent of course). I would also add that if there is a present relationship with a bank or financial adviser that person can be brought into the conversation now, as well as appraisers and experts on collectibles.

    This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is informational in nature only. This attorney may not be licensed in the jurisdiction which you have a question about so the answer could be only general in nature. Visit Steve Zelinger's website: http://www.stevenzelinger.com/


  4. Suggest she name you and the attorney as co-executors and/or co-trustees.
    This would allow equal authority and the attorney to do a lot of the work.

    The answer given does not imply that an attorney-client relationship has been established and your best course of action is to have legal representation in this matter.

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