My mother died in 2010. She left her estate to her children and grandchildren. We finally closed on her house in November 2012. My sister is the executrix and sent letters to every heir detailing the estate expenses incurred since my mother died and what each heir would receive now that everything is settled and paid. She requested a signed copy to show agreement in her calculations before she writes the checks to each of us. Three heirs have yet to respond. My sister refuses to distribute our inheritance until all are in agreement. Is that necessary and is this legal? It has been over 2 1/2 years since my mother died.
Estate Planning Attorney
I always suggest getting consents from everybody. If not you put yourself at risk of future lawsuite. The secondary option is filing a motion in court to close the estate and distribute, and have the court approve the expenses. Any interested party can file those motions in Michigan. Find a lawyer in your state, and he should be able to force the estate closed and make the distributions if it is just a dispute over expenses.
Ethics / Professional Responsibility Lawyer
It is customary for the executor to ask for waivers of accounting before distributing and closing the estate. If waivers are not returned, she will have to file a judicial accounting. A formal judicial accounting will add to the estate's expenses and reduce the amount available for distribution. If the beneficiaries decide to contest the judicial accounting that will be even more expensive for everybody. You pay your money and take your choice.
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I agree with my colleagues. This is not only legal, but it is quite common. The executrix is entitled to use the funds of the estate to pay her lawyer and to defend against any contests. If there is not a waiver and consent filed, it is possible that the executrix would distribute the money, only to find herself facing such a contest, without any money to defend it. She is not required to place herself in that situation.
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