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Greedy Estate Trustee

Case Study | Mar 20, 2015

The Problem

A friend was appointed as executor of an estate where the deceased had directed in his will that the residue of the estate be divided equally among his three siblings. More than two years have passed without the executor providing the siblings with an accounting or any records relating to the administration of the estate. We were retained by one of the siblings to demand an accounting and an interim distribution.

Our Approach

We initially sent a letter to the executor requesting his cooperation, reminding him of his fiduciary duties and obligation to advance the administration of the estate, account for what he had done to date, and make a timely distribution. He was advised that if he failed to provide a timely accounting, we would initiate court proceedings on behalf of the beneficiary. When the executor failed to respond to our request for voluntary disclosure, we obtained a court order directing him to file his accounts with the court.

The Result

The executor delivered a partial accounting, which revealed that he had claimed and paid executor compensation to himself and his spouse and that he had also paid a lawyer who is apparently doing the executor’s work. The accounts also revealed that he was paying for his own meals and charging other personal expenses to the estate. We filed formal Objections to the executor’s conduct with the court that resulted in the executor reimbursing the estate for various improper expenditures and charges and a reduction in executor compensation. The executor was also ordered to make an interim distribution of the estate and to personally pay a portion of legal costs our client incurred.

© 2015 Lawrence, Lawrence, Stevenson LLP

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