Our naive mom had a lawyer do a will appointing all three living children as executors. This was our mom, with about a seventh grade education, not having any clue to what was the correct way to write a will. This supposed lawyer, who mom paid, honored her request. Then 5 years later, my sister and I were forced to petition the court for guardianship and conservator of our mom who had vascular dementia. It was not a memorable time in all our lives. Needless to say the roles of guardian and conservator were taxing mentally, monetarily, time consuming and physically challenging.
Just three weeks after mom's home going, the bank froze her account which I had access as conservator. I never paid myself any money for my overseeing mom/her estate and care (the court allows a 2% to the conservator). She drew $1170.20 per month. The court had advised the conservator to not petition for dismissal for approximately 2 months after mom's death. Essentially all of her bills were up to date (thank God) with the exception of the funeral expense. When the bank froze her account, her funeral expenses were paid in full by a sibling with the understanding of reimbursement from the estate when the demands of the court system were met.
We did everything the court asked. Legals for any "unknown heirs" ran in the legal system for one month. THEN, the will was probated in the legals for another month.
My sister/guardian, myself/conservator and our brother went before the probate judge to take oath regarding our knowledge of this being mom's last wil. The probate judge commented AFTER the oath, she wished us luck in trying to access the estate/bank account with all three living children listed as executors.
The court sent a bill with a breakdown of services "to remit upon receipt". The CASH FUNDS ONLY ACCEPTED included charges going towards the probate judge's retirement fund. This money was personally funded due to the estate account was frozen. Then after receiving a clearance letter from the court, accessing the estate banking account is still unsuccessful.
We have since been advised by another bank, the probate court could have had 2 of the 3 siblings sign off to appoint the other sibling as sole executor. When the probate judge was approached regarding this, initially her response was she was not aware of such a response. When my sister clarified what was needed, the probate judge's response was since we had probated the will it was too late. She then advised seeking an attorney.
My question, is there any other avenue to take besides legal advisement?
We have recently been informed by an honest and ethical paralegal, another lawyer, who acted on behalf of individuals as their conservator, is having a difficult time getting paper work returned in a timely fashion from this same probate judge. I could easily say I have had a half dozen papers lost by this probate court system. This probate judge had her clerk of court notify the need of a meeting in her quarters for a "failed to report" when mom's house was sold (even properly having petitioned the court AND receiving permission to do so). This was necessary to fund her care in assisted living and memory care. The judge was informed the report was sent by registered mail and signed by one of her employees three weeks (yes, weeks) after selling and closing. Is this incompetence of this public office's duties?
As guardian and conservator we are far from uneducated. We both are professionals and college graduates. My heart goes out to people who do not have the mentality to work through all the red tape.
Also, would there be someone higher up the judicial system to ask, file a complaint, etc about this probate court's actions?
God knows, we were told many times during this very difficult journey by the judge she could advise us on anything because that was practicing law.
Deeply appreciative of any ideas.