From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My uncle left my brother and I each half of his estate, which included all his personal property. I found out that the executor gave much of the personal property to a non-heir. The executor is now listing as an estate expense the transportation costs and storage fees to get the property to this other person. Can I object to those charges?
Pennsylvania Executors are given a great deal of flexibility to manage the estate with little oversight, which in general saves estates money. When the executor behaves badly, though, the probate system is not alerted.
As an heir of the estate, you are given power which counters the Executor’s power. For the Executor to be released from liability to you, he needs you to sign a release. Without it, you are free to Petition the Orphans’ Court who will force the Executor to file an Accounting and justify all expenses.
If the Orphans’ Court judge finds that the fees or charges paid were inappropriate, then the court can “surcharge” the Executor and force him to reimburse the estate (50% of which is your money). From the facts you have recited, it appears that the fees paid and the gift given were inappropriate. You are free as the harmed heir to have us bring this matter to the Executor’s attention and your intention to contest the fees. DO NOT sign any releases. The Executor should recognize his error and we can hopefully come to an agreement. Sometimes an Executor just needs to know that you are serious enough to retain an attorney, then they do the right thing. If not, you can have us file the Petition.
If you have any other questions about Probate or Accountings, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.