Klenk Law

Tag: Estate Litigation Attorney

I Was Served With a Petition for Accounting, What do I do?

Posted on Tue Sep 29, 2015, on Estate Litigation

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: I am the executor of my father’s estate in Lehigh County. My sister and I do not speak, so the process has been terrible. She refuses to sign the family settlement agreement I sent her, and instead has petitioned the Orphans’ Court to make me account. Do I need to respond?

Yes, you must respond to the petition. As a beneficiary, your sister has every right to ask that you file a formal account with the Court. She does not have to show that you have done anything wrong, only that she is a beneficiary. She may have done you a favor, because it is clear that she was never going to sign your family settlement agreement. This would mean dragging the estate administration on potentially for years. Now you get a court-mandated end date.

When should I distribute estate assets as administrator in Bucks County?

Posted on Tue Aug 18, 2015, on Estate Litigation

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: I am the administrator of my brother’s estate in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. I have advertised the estate and paid all the valid creditors, but a neighbor of my brother has made a claim for $50,000 that I believe has no validity. Can I distribute the estate funds 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. An “at risk” distribution is that may put your personal assets at risk. Your Bucks County Estate Administration Lawyer works hard to keep you out of trouble. If you ignore your brother’s neighbor, you could be putting yourself at risk.

What is the time limit to contest a will in New Jersey?

Posted on Mon Aug 17, 2015, on Will Contests and Will Challenges

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My brother has filed a will with the Surrogate that I believe is not my mother’s will. I want to contest the will, but how long do I have to file the will challenge?

Once the will is filed and accepted by the Surrogate, to challenge the will you must have a complaint filed in the proper format with the New Jersey Superior Court Clerk. If you are a New Jersey resident, you only have four months to file the complaint. if you live outside New Jersey, you have six months.

Philadelphia Power of Attorney Formal Accounting

Posted on Fri Jul 31, 2015, on Formal Accounting

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My mother named me her power of attorney. For years, I used it to pay her bills and care for her. My mother recently died in Philadelphia without a will. My sister thinks I stole some money, but that is not true. She 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 mother’s Power of Attorney, you became a fiduciary. As a fiduciary, you owed your mother a duty to look out for her best interest. But that job also comes with the obligation to explain your actions as Agent to certain people.

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.

Elder Financial Scam Allegedly Left No Estate Money, Philadelphia

Posted on Wed Jul 29, 2015, on Elder Financial Scams

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: When my father became very ill two years ago, we hired a full time caretaker to help him. We live in California and my father lived in Philadelphia, so we could not be there at all times. At his death, we were shocked to find out that his will was changed and the caretaker was the executor. She says all his money was spent on medical care, but that is impossible. We are now being told we are the heirs, but there is no money. I suspect she has stolen his money. What can I do?

You have a few options. If the will has been filed and accepted by the Register, you could appeal the validity of the will to the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court.

Where should I store my power of attorney in Montgomery County?

Posted on Thu Jul 23, 2015, on Power of Attorney

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: I have signed a General Power of Attorney giving my daughter the power to act for me, but I don’t want her to have it yet. I only want her to have it when (and if) I become unable to care for myself. Should I keep it in my safe deposit box? We both live in Montgomery County, so she is close by.

The problem with putting your General Power of Attorney in your safe deposit box is that if you become incapacitated, your daughter will likely be unable to get into the box. If you have died, there is a process to open the box. But, that process is much more complex if you are still alive and incapacitated.

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.

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