Question: I am the Executor of a Montgomery County estate and the trustee of the trust into which the estate assets pour. The trust is for my brother. He is the beneficiary of the estate. What do I do when the beneficiary’s lawyer does not engage me?
Careful! First, the executor needs to understand that the beneficiary of the estate is not the brother; the beneficiary of the estate is the trust for the brother. The brother is a beneficiary of the trust, but he is not the heir of the estate. He may have an attorney, but the executor may be giving that attorney too much power over estate matters.
The executor will want to obtain a release of liability. In a way, the executor obtains that from himself as trustee of the trust. As there is obviously self-interest in getting the release, the executor should also obtain a release from his brother. This can be done two ways.
First, the executor can have an experienced Probate Attorney prepare and file a Formal Petition for Accounting with the Montgomery Orphans’ Court. This should be done in the format outlined by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The executor’s brother and his lawyer will then be forced to either object to the account or not. Either way, the matter is finally resolved and the executor has obtained his release.
Second, the executor can have his Probate Attorney prepare an Informal Accounting for the brother and his lawyer. The executor should only spend time on this option if he believes that there is a good chance that his brother will agree with the accounting. If he will not, do not waste the time; file the Formal Accounting. If he is willing to give the executor a release, the executor can move forward with funding the trust without the cost of filing the Formal Accounting.
The executor has the right to use estate funds to retain a Probate Attorney to advise them. Because the executor is in a complex situation, it would be wise to use some of that money to let an experienced Montgomery County Probate Lawyer review the facts and provide good advice.
If anyone has questions about Montgomery County Probate, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation. Wills, Trusts and Estates, It’s all we do!