My grandfather passed away in January. He had 3 children. My mother, my aunt, and my uncle. My aunt was named Executor in the will. My mother has bipolar (takes lots go Meds), is an alcoholic, has horrible anxiety and has never been responsible and can barely pay her bills. My grandpa and his son (my uncle) have never gotten along, therefore my uncle hasn't had a relationship with his father for over 10 years and he was "blacked out" of a copy of my grandfathers will. This copy was not notarized (whether accidental or intentional). My aunt is handling everything with a probate lawyer. She speaks with her lawyers overpaid assistant more than she talks to her lawyer. There were not many things of high value in his house to be appraised to add to the estate. His car, (a 2002 Honda Passport in excellent condition), the family agreed would go to my sister, his granddaughter, because she has a very old car and all of us have decent ones. Probate said she would have to buy it, since it wasn't in the will. I would like to know if that is protocol if the family is in agreement. Also, my aunt has been paying all of the bills (with documentation) and fulfilling her duties as executor.
Both executor and the lawyer have fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries. Apparently, the established accounting system and control are to safeguard the estate assets and, better discharge their legal obligations.
I do not know why there would be a question about the lawyer receiving the bills unopened? It is just to make certain that everything is received by the lawyer so that all liabilities can be paid and to make certain all expenses are accounted for in the estate. There seems to be dissatisfaction with the actual administration.
The Attorney and any staff that are utilized are paid according to statute and any "extraordinary expenses have to be accounted for and approved by the court. If the staff is overpaid that simply means that the attorney takes less, so perhaps he values their services greatly.
Regarding by the car that is often handled by an adjustment to the distribution, so your sister would get the car but with a reduction in her other distribution of assets. If all of the beneficiaries are in agreement they could waive this, but the beneficiaries would need to let the executor know that this was their will.
Every thing that I am saying here is my opinion and it is not based on any particular case. My response is just unsupported general information. If it helps you to resolve an issue that's great but do not rely on it as legal advice because it is not based on the facts in your case and it is not based on any specific legal research. Answering this question creates no relationship between the writer and reader of the writing. I am not your attorney now, nor have I been on the past. If you just want to comment please do that on AVVO where the price is $0.00. I do typically respond to all AVVO comments.
I don't find it particularly "peculiar" for the estate's attorney to ask for bills to be presented in unopened envelopes. I think that each person has certain preferences as to minor matters and that questioning those preferences is a waste of time. I imagine that the attorney prefers to organize the bills in a way that he or she finds most comfortable.
Good luck to you.
Michael S. Haber is a New York attorney. As such, his responses to posted inquiries, such as the one above, are limited to his understanding of law in the jurisdiction in which he practices and not to any other jurisdiction. In addition, no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to constitute legal advice, nor to constitute the existence of an attorney/client or other contractual or fiduciary relationship, inasmuch as rendering legal advice involves the ability of the attorney to ask appropriate questions of the person seeking such advice and to thus gather appropriate information. In addition, an attorney/client relationship is formed only by specific agreement. The purpose of this answer is to provide the questioner with general information, not to outline specific legal rights and remedies.
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