Estates involve family, trust and money which is a recipe for trouble. Many times, this is the largest “check” or money that an individual may receive during their lifetime. The process demands transparency and confidence. Many times the Executor and the Estate fall short.
Executors are required to communicate with the beneficiaries at two points in the estate administration process, in the beginning and at the end. In the beginning, Pennsylvania law requires the Executor to provide a beneficiary notice of the estate as well as their status as beneficiary. Think of this notice as a modern way to conduct a “reading of the Will” (which is not required).
At the end, the Executor can end the estate in two ways: (1) an informal settlement providing the beneficiaries an “accounting” of the estate finances as well as a comprehensive release of the Executor; or, (2) a court filing of a formal “Account” which provides a comprehensive overview of finances, which is ultimately adjudicated by the Court.
Between the beginning and the end, there is no obligation to communicate.
What happens when an Executor refuses to communicate, or distribute the estate or pay creditors or beneficiaries?
The best course for a beneficiary is to file a petition requiring the Executor to Account to the Court. The Petition requires the Executor to account and the filing immediately puts the Executor under the Orphan’s Court’s oversight. Once the Account is filed, the beneficiary will immediately receive transparency and can file Objections if he or she believes that the Executor did not do something right.
At Russell Law, we work with the Executor to make sure that the administration is transparent and that the beneficiaries have confidence in the process. That prevents litigation and helps bring a family together after the death of a loved one.
Many times, we meet with both the Executors and beneficiaries and discuss the process and what everyone should expect from the process. The law firm representing the estate should strive for transparency and confidence. When beneficiaries contact us to represent them, we demand transparency and work with the beneficiaries to ensure that they receive what they are entitled to.
Contact PA Probate Attorney Kenneth Russell today
If you need to organize your estate plan or need your estate administration questions answered, contact Russell Law today.
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