Klenk Law

Tag: Duties and Responsibilities

Caring for my mother with Alzheimer’s, Can I be Reimbursed?

Posted on Thu Jan 21, 2016, on Estate Planning

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My mother has Alzheimer’s, so we have sold her house and moved her into my house where my wife and I care for her. My brother is emotionally supportive, but he lives in California so he does not help out with her day-to-day care or decisions dealing with her health or assets. Though she is cooperative, the Alzheimer’s makes caring for her a near full-time job and we have spent a great deal of money on alterations to the house. Can I be reimbursed from her estate for these expenses?

How do I get a Personal Representative to hold up their end of a will’s terms?

Posted on Mon Nov 16, 2015, on Probate and Estate Administration

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My Mom’s will says that all estate money is divided equally between her children. The Personal Representative said she would be writing us equal checks. It has been 9 months and I have not received a check. How do I get her to hold up her end of the will terms?

New Jersey gives the Personal Representative a great deal of unsupervised power to handle the estate. If you feel that this power is being abused, you have the right to force her to appear in court and explain herself. You can hire an attorney experienced in Surrogate’s Court litigation who can file for you a Petition forcing the Personal Representative to file a Schedule of Distribution, which is her road-map plan of how she will distribute the estate’s assets.

Philadelphia Power of Attorney Formal Accounting – Agent Wrongdoing

Posted on Sat Oct 31, 2015, on Formal Accounting

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My mother has Alzheimer’s, and my uncle has been handling her money for several years as her power of attorney. My sister and I are not given any information about how he is handling her money. Recently, he took his family on a long cruise that I know he could never afford on his own money. My sister and I feel he must have used our mother’s money to pay for his vacation. What can we do?

Your mother’s Power of Attorney names your uncle as her “Agent.” As Agent, he has a fiduciary duty to use those powers to care for your mother. In Pennsylvania, the Agent is given broad powers and very little oversight, but an interested person being able to easily get a court order for the Agent to account for every penny counter balances this flexibility.

If the executor is untrustworthy, how do I protect myself?

Posted on Fri Oct 23, 2015, on Estate Litigation

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My mother died a resident of Bucks County and named her sister as her executor. I am the beneficiary of the entire estate. My aunt filed the will last month, but has changed the locks on the house and refuses to answer my calls. She has a history of alcohol abuse and I am worried that she is spending the estate money on herself. Is there any way that I could freeze the accounts and protect my inheritance?

Pennsylvania executors are given a great deal of power to act on their own, without court supervision, and are not obligated to share much information with you on demand. This works well when the executor is honest, as the estate can be managed less expensively.

Lehigh County Power of Attorney Account Upon Request

Posted on Fri Sep 25, 2015, on Estate Litigation

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My dad named me his power of attorney. For many years I helped pay his bills and care for him. After years of in-house care and then a nursing home in Lehigh County, all his money was gone except one small account which we both split. My brother thinks I stole the money, but that is not true. He has served me a citation to account for my actions under the power of attorney, what do I do now?

By accepting the position of agent through your father’s Power of Attorney, you became a fiduciary. As a fiduciary, you owed your father a duty to look out for his interests. But that job also comes with the obligation to explain your actions as agent to certain people.

An interested party can ask for you to account for all the actions you took as the agent. During his life, this could have been your father. Now that your father has died, your brother (as the heir to half his estate) has the right to ask for a power of attorney accounting from you because if it is found that you took any money, half of anything recovered will go to him.

Executor Wrongdoing in Camden County, New Jersey – Steps Needed

Posted on Wed Jul 29, 2015, on Estate Litigation

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: For years, my parents lent money to my cousin and his wife to pay their children’s education. To my surprise, at their deaths, my cousin’s wife was named executor. She “hired” my cousin who is a CPA to handle the estate’s books. Over a year has passed and they refuse to give me any information about the estate and are calling the loans to them, “gifts”. What can I do?

I take it that you are the residuary beneficiary of the will? If so, you have the right to demand through a formal accounting to know where every penny went and a justification for every expense. You also have a right to investigate whether all those years of funding education and other money transfers were gifts or loans.

Protecting PA Inheritance from an Untrustworthy Executor

Posted on Wed Jul 15, 2015, on Formal Accounting

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: I am a beneficiary in a will that has been through probate. Unfortunately, the executrix is very untrustworthy, and I feel that she has been spending all the money in the deceased’s accounts. Neither she, nor her attorney, have provided me with any accounting of any accounts. Is there any way that I could freeze the accounts before all the money is spent?

Executors in Pennsylvania are given a great deal of power to act on their own, without court supervision. This works well when the Executor is honest, as the estate can be managed less expensively. If the Executor is untrustworthy, though, this system can fail unless the beneficiaries enforce their interests.

What are the consequences of making an at risk distribution?

Posted on Mon Jun 29, 2015, on Estate Litigation

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: I am the executor of my Mother’s estate in Chester County, Pennsylvania. I have advertised the estate and paid all the valid creditors, but a neighbor of my mother has made a claim for a five-figure sum of money that has no validity. Can I make distribution without paying him?

The quick answer is yes, but the right answer is that you should not.

As the executor, you are free to make “at risk” distributions, meaning a distribution that may put you personally at risk. Any experienced Chester County probate lawyer should advise you that ignoring your mother’s neighbor could put yourself at risk. Remember, even when your attorney’s asking you to slow down or take a few extra steps, they’re trying to prevent you from causing yourself more problems later on. You might be motivated to close out your duties quickly, but that neighbor could make some major hassles for you—even if their claim’s not valid.

What’s the statute of limitation for estate creditor claims in Lehigh County?

Posted on Fri Jun 19, 2015, on Probate and Estate Administration

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: I am the executor of my Father’s estate in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. I want to distribute the estate assets according to the will. Is there a statute of limitations, or a time period for creditors making claims against the estate? If I distribute the assets, can I be held responsible if creditors make a claim?

As you’ve guessed, your Father’s death did not end his obligation to pay unpaid bills. By taking on the job of Executor, you gain the power and responsibility to assemble his assets and pay those bills. Compared to other states, Pennsylvania is rather creditor-friendly. If you have notice from a creditor, you are expected to address the claim. That being said, creditors cannot wait forever to make their claim. You trigger a one-year statute of limitations period for claims when you properly advertise the estate.

How to defend my use of Power of Attorney in Burlington County, New Jersey?

Posted on Wed Apr 1, 2015, on Formal Accounting

My mother named me her Agent under her Burlington County, New Jersey Power of Attorney, and I cared for her for years. Now my sister claims I embezzled and stole money using the Power of Attorney. How do I clear my name?

As Agent, you are permitted to retain a Burlington County Surrogates Court Attorney to assist you in filing a Formal Accounting of all your actions as Agent. This accounting is then provided to all interested parties, who are free to either accept the terms or object.

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