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Powers of durable power of attorney and executor of estate.

Phoenix, AZ |

My husband was the sole beneficiary of his mother's estate. Because we live in MN, she named a friend as executor and power of attorney since the friend lived nearby. Once his mother passed in November 2006, this elderly woman, the executress took full control over my mother-in-laws finances, but required my husband and I to tend to all other matters including notifying debtors of her passing, getting death certificates, etc. We knew my MIL had modest sum of cash assets in her bank accounts and my husband was due those assets after debts were repaid, but she failed to provide him with those assets. She did not follow the terms of the will regarding allocations of money by paying more to some people, including herself. In her case, she claimed my MIL wanted her to have all her liquid (cash) assets, but that wasn't in the will. This woman failed to pay the mortgage note as she was supposed to, which resulted in incurred penalty fees up to the time the house was sold. The real property did not enter probate because a beneficiary deed had previously been filed and left to my husband. When we asked for copies of bank statement and final tax filing records, the executor claimed she did not have to provide any of that to my husband and I don't think that's right. Is my husband entitled to copies of financial records to know what liquid assets were part of the estate after expenses? From what we knew, she had at least $15,000 in cash that was withdrawn from her IRA to cover final expenses and since we paid the final utility bills and other revolving and installment bills ourselves to close accounts and her medical bills were paid up just a week before she passed, leaving only 2 days in hospice (she was cared for by my husband in her own home until 2 days before she passed). Is my husband entitled to his mother's financial records in order to ensure that the executress didn't horde money for herself?

Attorney Answers 1


  1. You need to speak to a local attorney. While I do not practice in your state, much of what you have related would be complelely contrary to the responsibilities of an executor of an estate. An executor has the highest duties toward the estate and its beneficiaries TO STRICTLY ADHERE TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE WILL and the laws of the state, and paying him or herself out of estate assets at the expense of the beneficiaries is completely improper, as is modifiying the distribution from what the will provides. If your state has similar law, there are many things that can be done.

    Executors are entitled to be paid for their work, which would come out of estate assets, but not to require third parties to pay estate bills to leave more in the estate for the executor to pay to him or herself.

    In the states where I practice, the beneficiary is entitled to see the records, and if he or she refuses, if request is made to the court, the court will require it.

    Please get to an attorney immediately who practices probate law in the state where your mother in law lived.

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