Klenk Law

Tag: Estate Litigation Lawyer

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.

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

Posted on Wed Oct 21, 2015, on Power of Attorney

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My brother named me his agent under his Atlantic County, New Jersey power of attorney. Now my sister claims I embezzled and stole money using that power of attorney. How do I clear my name?

As agent, you are permitted to retain an Atlantic 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. If they file objections, you are then able to address these objections in front of a judge. In the end, the judge then rules on the evidence presented.

Gloucester County Landlord Creditor of Estate

Posted on Mon Oct 5, 2015, on Estate Litigation

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My Dad passed away this month. When he died, I found out that I was still on his Gloucester County lease as a cosigner. The lease was signed in 2011. I had moved out in 2013, letting the management company know that I wanted off the lease. When I asked if the management company had anything for me to sign, they replied ‘no’. When I moved out, my Dad had let his brother, his brother’s son, and his brother’s grandson move in. They are still there and the landlord knows of the situation, asking them for money for every day they have been there past May. At best, when my Dad died I thought I would be morally obligated to remove my Dad’s property and clean. Instead, the feeling I am getting is that the landlord wants to hold me responsible for damages, utilities, and possible future rent. Dad had nothing and I am a stay-at-home mom of special needs children.

You have mentioned a number of potential issues. First, the only person who has the authority to act for your dad after he has died is the Personal Representative of his estate (if he had a Will) or the Administrator of his estate (if he had no Will). It sounds like your dad (or his estate) owes the landlord some money.

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.

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.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty by Philadelphia Executor

Posted on Thu Sep 10, 2015, on Estate Litigation

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: The will says that all funds are to be equally divided between the siblings. The executor is dividing things unevenly. We had an agreement how things were to be divided. What can I do if the Executor is not holding up her end of the will?

I believe what you are describing is an estate that has been opened with the Philadelphia Register of Wills and Letters Testamentary issued to one person, the Executor. The Will says that the estate is to be divided up equally between the deceased person’s children but, the Executor has decided on her own to divide up and distribute the estate’s assets unequally.

How do I find out more about my Philadelphia inheritance?

Posted on Fri Aug 21, 2015, on Formal Accounting

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My sister willed me a share of the proceeds of her stamp collection. The executor (our brother) told me that he sold the collection and sent me a check. I think the collection was worth much more. How do I get the executor to explain?

You have the legal right to force the executor to account for the stamp collection and give you the details of the sale. If you believe your share should be greater, you can object to his accounting.

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.

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