What if the executor does not file paperwork with probate court?

Asked over 1 year ago - Marblehead, MA

My sister died in 2011. She left a will, naming another relative as executor. She has not filed any paperwork regarding this estate in the local court system. She appears to be writing checks, selling assets etc. She refuses to discuss the matter. This seems sketchy to me and other concerned family members. I would guess the total (starting) value of the estate to be at least mid six figures. We are baffled.

Any suggestions on how we can get some transparency here?

Attorney answers (6)

  1. Herbert Warren Cooper IV

    Pro

    Contributor Level 14

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    Answered . You would do well to speak with an experienced probate attorney. Normally, an inventory and account should be available at this point. There are some situations where "informal" dealings can occur, but generally not with amounts north of $10K. At that point, you are going to have to file paperwork with the court. An attorney could help encourage your relative to do what is required of her, or arrange for a replacement executrix/administrator to be appointed.

  2. Elliot S Coren

    Contributor Level 11

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    Answered . Hi

    You need to hire an experinced probate attorney as soon as possible to take legal action against the executor and to remove her as soon as possible. It appears that you have reason to be concerned. I have 40 years of experience doing this if you care to contact me. Good luck.


    Steve Coren

    This answer does not consitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. The answer is... more
  3. Christopher W. Vaughn-Martel

    Contributor Level 17

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    Answered . You absolutely need to speak with an attorney.

    You can compel your relative to produce and file the will in Court. It is possible that your relative is simply disregarding the will and self-dealing with estate property. You should reach out to counsel immediately if you have some interest in the estate.

    Christopher Vaughn-Martel is a Massachusetts lawyer with the firm of Vaughn-Martel Law in Boston, Massachusetts.... more
  4. James P. Frederick

    Contributor Level 20

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    Best Answer
    chosen by asker

    Answered . I agree that you need to contact an attorney to help you get to the bottom of this. The limited facts that you provide, however, suggests that your sister may have engaged in some "home-made" estate planning. The fact that her "executor" has been able to access the assets at all suggests that she was either a joint owner on the accounts or she was designated as the beneficiary. Otherwise, she would not be able to gain any access to the assets at all. It does not matter what the Will says, if the assets were all jointly held or designated someone as beneficiary, since a Will only applies to assets titled in the decedent's name alone.

    (Incidentally, she is not the executor unless an estate has been opened and she has been appointed as such, by the court). Otherwise, she is the "nominated executor," at best, and she would have no legal rights, in that position. Given that two years have passed, you should check the probate court records in the county where your sister resided at the time of death to determine if a probate estate has been opened. If one has not, I am very concerned that your sister's Will may never be given effect.

    James Frederick

    ***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ******... more
  5. Henry Lebensbaum

    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . Consult an attorney


    henry lebensbaum esq 300 Brickstone Sq Ste 201 andover, ma -- attorneylebensbaum@verizon.net (978) 749-3606.
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  6. Jennifer A Deland

    Pro

    Contributor Level 12

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    Answered . It is possible that all property was joint. This a way people sometimes seek to avoid probate. Such an approach can be open to attack. It could be that your sister used a trust, and you are not a beneficiary. In that event you might have no effective recourse. Some clues may be available in the registry of deeds if you sister owned any real estate. Without knowing more, I would not comment on your likelihood of success. But it you do want to go to court, go and see an attorney experienced in probate litigation, and see what he or she thinks of your facts.

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