My twin and I inherited two estates that are worth about 150,000 dollars each. My parents died in 2006 and 2010. The executor took care of my sister and I after the first parent passed. The executor would not let me see the will until I went and asked the lawyer for it myself. She also has taken and opened my sister's mail from the lawyer who is also a beneficiary and kept it until my sister found out and confronted her about it. She will not show me any paperwork and told me she would not until it was all "said and done." The executor, after my dad died, but before the will was probated, she sold our van with a wheelchair lift in it and bought another car for my sister for 2000 dollars. I know of a few other things she sold. Can she do that? Isn't that our property that she is selling before she is executor? do not trust her and I have tried to get a lawyer for my case to just oversee the process. It seems no one will take the case. I do not want to block the current executor from the position, I just want to make sure that my sister and my rights are not violated however, because of this suspicious behavior, I fear that they already have been. Any insight?
A will merely nominates an executor. The Surrogate's Court appoints the executor. Until letters testamentary (or preliminary letters or letters of temporary administration) are issued by the court, there is no executor and, thus, nobody is empowered to take any steps with regard to the estate's assets. An executor owes a fiduciary duty to the estate and therefore must conduct herself in a thoroughly upstanding way.
I don't know why "it seems no one will take the case," but I suppose that more information is needed. If the executor has not conducted herself honestly and forthrightly, there may possibly be grounds to remove her, but evaluating whether to bring such a proceeding always depends on what is most pragmatic. For example, the fact the executor delayed in letting you see the will is probably water under the bridge at this point. You say the executor will not "show me any paperwork," but you don't indicate what that "paperwork" is, and the fact is that the executor doesn't have to share every document involved in administering the estate and may not have to share much information with you until an accounting is done.
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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