I am a beneficiary of an estate in probate, and not the executor so my hands are tied. The lawyer we are using is simply not doing his job. The State Probate tax form was due 3 months ago, all he did was file an extension and keeps procrastinating. There is no tangible reason why the taxes can not be done. This is holding up the process. He claims it is being worked on. What can be done to make lawyer do his job, and is it possible to fire him after he files the tax forms (as I am fearful the rest of the process will also drag on!).
There are a host of reasons why this could be taking so long, and many of them are legit. Then again, some reasons may not be so legitimate. Some reasons may include the executor, rather than the lawyer. And some reasons my include neither.
In any event, regardless of the reason for the length of time, you do have options. First, you can contact the executor and ask why it is taking so long. Second, if the lawyer will speak to you, you can contact him. Third, you can contact the court and request a status conference. Fourth, you can just contact the court and complain. Sometimes the court clerk will light a fire under the lawyer to move.
Note: The 706 tax form requires a lot of information and if there were life insurance policies, then he may be waiting on forms from the life insurance companies to file with the 706. Also, on that form, one must list all jointly owned property as of the date of death. In my experience, one very common reason for a late 706 filing has more to do with the fiduciary or Life Insurance company taking a long time to obtain the necessary documentation rather than anything else.
You cannot fire the lawyer, since he does not work for you. He works for the executor. Only the executor can do that. In that regard, as you say, your hands are tied.
Overall, I would just sit tight until a year has passed after the estate was opened. That's when your complaints will be heard without skepticism, since an estate takes generally a year to do, if it's not too complicated.
Ask the lawyer to write out the reasons why things are taking so long and if you are not satisfied, bring an action with the State Bar Grievance Committee.
The answers provided in this forum by me and transmitted by users of this forum are not to be considered legally binding in any way, nor is there an intent to form an attorney client relationship. If further information is required, seek competent legal counsel.
There may or may not be legitimate reasons for the extension. Asking for the reasons in writing is a good idea. Probate courts normally have a procedure for filing a complaint against an executor if a beneficiary does not believe that an executor is properly performing their duties.
My answer is for general information only and does not imply that any attorney-client relationship has been created.
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