Follow
Share

I am Executor for my parents' estate. Their attorney retired a year ago, and their practice, well I didn't like the options left. So I went to another law office of my choosing. My 4 siblings are incensed that I did not stick with the same law office as my parents used. I feel stuck. I thought I would be able to choose the people I felt most comfortable with, since these lawyers are so expensive I want to maximize communication. Is there some law that says I have to use the lawyer that wrote up the Will? I do have original copies of everything.

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
I think my siblings, at least 3 of the 4, are just plain mad at me, for really old family history. my lawyer says I have done absolutely everything correctly, I have nothing to worry about.
but, my sibs were always unsupportive and un-appreciative are of all the caregiving I did for both my parents, and there was a very tiny compensation I received, for which I insisted be signed, and I reported the small income on my income taxes. It was not even $5,000 per year. I cannot think of anything else that they would be upset about.
However, the cost of my lawyer (to respond to their Inquisition) and the cost of their lawyer, is probably $15,000 combined. So who is really "gaining" anything out of this?
What is really happening, is the sibs are forcing me to run around finding all the past documentation, and depleting the Estate account. Net effect is there won't be any money left, to get compensated for handling the Estate. If that is their goal, they have achieved it. But it has always been that way---I have forked over a huge part of my life for about 15 years.... not so much time in the beginning, but definitely my parents both depended on me for tons of help.
And now, handling their Estate, it is just more of the same. A TON of work, and little to no compensation. I suspect this is the way it is with most Caregivers (and why we have so many people writing in here on Aging Care, "how can I get compensated for taking care of mom?").
This is a TON of work, and if there is anything in the Estate, it should be going to the Caregiver and Executor---not lawyers!
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Hate to throw a monkey wrench into the concept of the firm that prepared the documents having to provide information or even testify at any hearing, but it's something to consider.

If the client was Mallory's father, there attaches to the work performed for him a client privilege which binds his attorney from revealing details. Then it can get sticky, as to whether that privilege abates after his death or if it transfers via the estate planning documents to his executor, executrix or trustee (if he had a trust).

I have also heard but haven't verified it that on death, the client privilege and confidentiality issue ceases.

I have never been involved with a case in which a former attorney, retired, or his/her law firm, was involved in a subsequent lawsuit by siblings, so I'm really not sure how his confidentiality could or could not prevent him from testifying.

As to any testimony they might be able to give, it could be as to the specific assets, approximate value, proxy appointments, etc. I would think the sibs would want to establish that there were certain assets, bequeathed to your mother or to your siblings, and that those assets haven't been managed properly. That seems to be the gist of fiduciary challenges.

It isn't that the law firm stands to gain. It's that if someone from the firm is subpoenaed, there is a legal obligation to appear. If your sibs file a lawsuit and their attorney subpoenas someone from the discharged firm, someone will have to appear or face contempt of court charges for refusal to appear.

If the subpoena is a duces tecum one, that requires making available specific documentation (or "all" docs) in the file the attorney created for your father or mother, or both.

There might be a mitigating factor in choosing another firm, though, as the original attorney involved has retired. So you have a legitimate reason for choosing another firm if you weren't comfortable with the attorneys remaining at the firm.

But a subpoena could easily be issued for the retired attorney as well, even though he or she may not remember all of the details of the estate plan.

The time stamped copies of anything you file used to be called "true copies". I haven't done litigation in some time, so I don't know if that's still the nomenclature.

Igloo, I think what you're referring to in terms of malfeasance is "breach of fiduciary duty."

Mallory, what do you think is behind the issue of your sibs challenging your choice of attorneys?
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Mallory - in all this, your siblings position is that there should be lots more $$$ in the estate, that's right? That a part of this is they don't want you as executor because their viewpoint is that you are responsible for the decreased value of moms estate, right? What sibs could do is call old law firm to testify as to the status on your dads estate (if probated its public record) etc that they did and what in their esteemed experience in estate planning it could lend itself to be worth if responsibly handled. They don't testify against you but testify as to fact of the estate, it worth and when you stopped using them. That was my point & I'm sorry I didn't have it read clearly this way.

It seems sadly that your siblings want you discredited at any cost as they have hired their own legal and are requesting items that could lead to forensic accounting reviews. I'd suggest fir you to speak clearly with your probate guy as to how much exposure you could have for whatever you did as dpoa and as executor which placed debt on the estate.

If the new executor sends you a w-9 & an I-9 forms, could be very ugly.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Mallory - geez, well ok, so do you want to fold or push back? If push back, My suggestion is to from the moment mom died at the hospital, time line your costs. Every cent spent on the house with receipts. Every cent to clear house of items. Any funeral & burial costs. All are a legit claim against the estate if you personally paid for them.

If the estate has assets, you can & should be paid from those assets an executor administration fee in addition to the above claim(s). The fee schedule depends on your states laws. You want to get this in and filed before the executor resignation of yours is filed. Ask your probate guy how the courthouse does this. If you can actually do this yourself, do it. The court I'd bet has a time stamp. I'd have hubby drive you over, and you run in & do.....first claims filed & stamped; then executor fees; then resignation letter. Then go have margaritas or visit moms grave and vent.

There's going to be $ from the sale of the home even after the mortgage issue, right? You want whantever filed so you have to be included in estate settlement is done with whichever sibling is the new executor.

Also it may give you some leverage if they attempt to come after you personally for " lack of proper DPOA or executor duty" or whatever this is termed. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

igloo, "The old firm...has no allegiance to you...could well testify as to actions you took that they advised against." The old firm, cannot testify to any actions that they advised against, because they were not and are not "advising" me. They don't work for me, they don't work for the 4 siblings, so what would they stand to gain from testifying against me. They were paid long ago for my parents papers they drew up. I'm not sure what you mean, I guess you think they would somehow retaliate against me since I didn't hire them, but wouldn't that be somewhat illegal to retaliate against me? I would report them to the State Bar Assn in one second flat.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Igloo, my lawyer doesn't litigate but another in their law office does. The problem is, there is not going to be enough money left in estate to pay all these lawyer's bills. So I'm pretty sure I will have to resign as executor.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

As executor, you choose the atty. But if the law firm who did their wills, trusts, etc are still in practice, they are used as they have established familiarity with the situation. Also should there arise concerns of heirs that misappropriation was done by the DPOA who is now the executor, the old firm since it happened on their watch, so to speak, can probably quell those concerns.

Mallory Isn't your situation that your siblings have hired their own legal & probably are setting up to challenge your appointment & actions? If so, their legal will or has contacted the old firm. What I'd be concerned about is If the old firm also did your fathers probate and there was a solid estate left to your mom and now mom has died and her estate has debt.....this is super sticky as it could imply your inability to have properly managed her finances. The old firm, since you basically fired them, has no allegiance to you as a client and could well testify as to actions you took that they advised against. Does your probate guy do litigation? My experience is that most probate atty do not do litigation, now dealing with sorting out or negotiating claims or debts they routinely do. But litigation involving challenges to executor appointment or executor actions is quite a different matter. If your probate guy doesn't, I'd ASAP get additional legal who does.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

Mallory, unless there's a provision in the Will requiring you to use the attorney who drafted it, you can choose your own attorney.

And based on the siblings conspiratorial actions, demanding backup data and hiring their own attorney, I think this is just another one of their harassment tactics.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

You are not required to use same firm. Many do because whoever wrote will is most familiar with wishes. You will pay for time to explain questions or review will before the new firm does probate filings. But you are in charge not sibs unless they challenge will and administration expenses.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Mallory have your parents passed or are you asking in anticipation of things to come?? To my knowledge, you don't need to use your parent's attorney or, for that matter an attorney at all!! If you have time and are willing to work with the surrogate's court, you don't have to hire any attorney. The lawyers will charge you for every minute they spend so if you can do it yourself, you can avoid the attorney's fees.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.