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Tag: Litigation

How Do I Prove A Breach Of Fiduciary Duty?

Posted on Sun Sep 11, 2016, on Estate Litigation

From Our “Ask a Question” mailbag: “My mother died in Montgomery County, PA, and set up a trust for me in her will. The Trust pays out now that I am 40. I recently found out the trustee failed to pay the Trust’s income taxes for ten years. How do I prove that he committed a breach of fiduciary duty? Can I make him pay the interest and penalty?”

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What can I do to protect myself from being taken advantage of by my Dad’s landlord in Delaware County?

Posted on Fri Jan 22, 2016, on Estate Litigation

My Dad passed away this month. When he died, I found out that I was still on his Delaware County apartment 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 had moved out, my Dad had let his brother, his son and his grandson move in. They are still there and the landlord’s been asking them for money for each day they are there past the end of last month. When my Dad died, I just thought I would be morally obligated to remove my Dad’s property and clean. Instead, I am getting a feeling that the landlord wants to hold me responsible for damages, utilities, and possible future rent. My Dad had nothing and I am a stay at home mom of special needs children.

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When to challenge a forged will in Chester County?

Posted on Sun Nov 1, 2015, on Will Contests and Will Challenges

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My neighbor said that she was going to leave me money in her will. But, at my neighbor’s death, a friend of hers filed a will with the Chester County Register of Wills that gave everything to the friend. I think the will is a forgery. Is there a statute of limitations period for me to challenge the will?

Yes. If you had acted before the will was filed, you could have had your Chester Probate Attorney file a caveat with the Chester County Register of Wills. This would have prevented the friend from obtaining Letters Testamentary until you had the chance to review the Will and decide if you were going to contest it.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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How long do I have to challenge my Dad’s will in Delco?

Posted on Mon Sep 14, 2015, on Will Contests and Will Challenges

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My father, a resident of Delaware County, Pennsylvania, died of dementia 12 years ago. Shortly before he died, his will was changed giving everything to my cousin. We believed that my father died broke, but now that my cousin died, we found out that he had a joint account with her containing a large sum of money. The prior will states that I would receive ¼ of his estate. Can I challenge the will?

First, a will challenge case alone based on incapacity or undue influence, even if successful, would not help you. You stated that the funds were in a joint account. A joint account passes outside of probate, meaning the will has no effect on the joint ownership. To be successful, you would first have to prove that the joint account was created improperly-perhaps under undue influence or forgery-so that the assets would pour into the estate. Then you would have to prove that the existing will was invalid.

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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.

Klenk Law

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.

Klenk Law

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

Posted on Thu Jul 2, 2015, on Formal Accounting

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My mother named me her Agent under her Camden 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 Camden 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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