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Tag: Orphans’ Court

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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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.

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Acquiring Releases of Liability as Executor in Delaware County, PA

Posted on Tue Mar 24, 2015, on Estate Litigation

I am the executor of my mother’s estate in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. I have sold the real estate, liquidated all the assets and am ready to distribute, but my sister will not give me a release of liability. What can I do?

You are right to be concerned. Prior to making distributions from the estate, you should insist on getting a release of liability. This is typically done informally by using what is broadly referred to as a Family Settlement Agreement.

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Naming Someone Else’s Trust as Beneficiary of Your Will.

Posted on Sun Oct 18, 2009, on Trusts

Inheritances are often left directly to a person, which is called an “outright” distribution. At other times clients choose to have an inheritance held in Trust. Trusts at their most basic are arrangements where one person, the Grantor, transfers an asset to a second person, the Trustee, to hold for a third person, the Beneficiary. In some Trusts one person wears more than one of these hats, for example when a parent forms a Trust for a child (Beneficiary) and names that child as the Trustee. Trusts can be Irrevocable or Revocable (sometimes called “Living Trusts”), complex or simple and serve a multitude of purposes, but typically if a client wants to give money in trust for a Beneficiary the client will create the Trust in the client’s Will.
What if a client wishes to make a gift in his or her Will into a trust formed by someone else?

This question was addressed in an August 2006 Decree from the Orphans’ Court Division of the Court of Common Please of Chester County in the Estate of Elizabeth Harris, deceased. Thinking this case may have interest to you, I have written the following short article.

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