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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Is five years too long to wait for my inheritance or an accounting?

Recently several readers have sent me questions about how long it takes for an estate to wind up, and how long they have to wait to get an accounting. For any executors reading this post, take note that beneficiaries are going to see lawyers and starting law suits, all because you won't send them financial information.

I'm going to start with this question:

My grandfather died five years ago and we have not received our inheritance from his estate. Is there anything we can do about this? Can we take the executor to civil court to get the accounting information or to find out what happened to the money?

Five years is too long without really good reason for delay. Before doing anything, be sure that you understand the terms of the will. For example, is the gift to you meant to be held in trust for a period of time or given to you when you reach a certain age, or for any other reason have a delay built in?

If that isn't the case, is there anything going on such as an estate lawsuit with another beneficiary that might cause a delay?

Have you directly asked the executor for an explanation? I expect you already have, but if not, starting today create a paper trail of your requests. Instead of calling on the phone, for example, send an email and keep your copy as proof that you tried to resolve this before turning to the courts. If you do make phone calls, log them. If you end up in court, you want the facts at hand.

If you can't get a satisfactory reply from the executor, you will likely need to hire a lawyer. This doesn't necessarily mean that you will end up in court, though I warn you that many people consider another person hiring a lawyer to be an act of hostility. If you are a residuary beneficiary of the estate, the first thing the lawyer will probably do (after reading the will) is write a formal letter demanding an accounting of the estate. Only residuary beneficiaries are entitled to a full accounting of everything that has gone on in the estate.

Even if you are not a residuary beneficiary, you are entitled to receive your gift under the will. And to receive it within a reasonable time! If for some reason you are never going to get your inheritance, you need to know why. For example, perhaps there were more debts than assets and everything had to be sold. If something like that is going on, then the executor should just tell you. I don't know why executors get so ridiculous about keeping important information like this to themselves when someone has a right to know. It only makes people suspicious and angry.

As I said, five years is too long without some good reason. Most estates are wound up in a year. Once the year is up, beneficiaries have the right to push for their inheritances.

If you can't get a satisfactory accounting and receive your inheritance as a result of the lawyer's demand letter, you do have the right to use the courts to enforce your rights. Maybe look into pooling the cost of a lawyer with other beneficiaries.

Along similar lines, I had a question from another reader who thought that the executor might be keeping a bank account open two years after probate in order to avoid having to give an accounting.

If that's the case, the executor is in for a surprise because the bank account doesn't have to be closed. That's completely irrelevant to producing an accounting, so don't let that stop you. Residuary beneficiaries have the right to demand a full accounting at any time during an estate.

3 comments:

  1. Hi Lynne,
    My parents both died in the same year. 2009. One in January, one in December. My sister and younger Brother were made Executors. After my Father's memorial, my sister, who is mostly in charge, has done very little to settle the Estate. She, only just this year(Feb), contacted Canada Revenue Agency. What documents she sent and what answer she got, she won't share with myself and our other sister. We have had no accounting since the will was mailed to us. I have all the Emails she sent relating what she was doing or wasn't doing. I have had nothing but excuses of why she couldn't get to finalizing or at least working on the Estate and my brother is no better. I have finally taken to urging them, short of Litigation, to get off their backsides.

    How does one go about getting the statements of accounts, documents or for that matter a list of what is left to disseminate from the personal property still in her possession?

    Is there a way to do this rather than taking them to court? L.D.

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  2. Inheritance loans or probate loans are what you, anyone, should look into for immediate funds to pay for an attorney, and maybe a CPA, if you are caught up in a long wait like this for an
    accounting -- and for the inheritance itself. Who is supposed to pay for all this support! One may not have enough ready cash around to pay for a lawyer's involvement, and an accountant's input as well if needed... Lynne and the other readers didn't mention this, however they are right, a demand letter from an estate attorney or so-called probate lawyer is step one -- and the follow up after that will not be inexpensive! Once lawyers enter -- the bills mount up. Especially when fighting executors or trustees or other estate attorneys... When you consider $450 or $500 per hr. or more... give or take. Lawyers are expensive, we all know that, but those who have a lot of cash in the bank don't need to look into trust fund inheritance loans or 72 hour probate loans to assemble some fast inheritance cash. Naturally the choice of online firm to apply for a fast inheritance advance is very important -- and they should meet some criteria... I looked at a bunch and liked three inheritance advance firms, they are all online strictly -- so they can deal with all states (except probates in Ohio). My wife and I liked the popular probate advance firm www.heiradvance.com, we liked the simplicity of www.inheritanceadvance.com; and we liked the interviews with inheritance loan clients and informative inheritance advance articles on www.inheritancenow.com. The criteria I mentioned was stuff like -- no monthly payments, no interest compounding the overall advance amount; No advance-charges at all, no hidden fees and no employment checks or obsessive insistence on credit reports and credit scores and references and all that jazz... Just nice secure trust inheritance loans and 2 to 3 day probate loans. We needed speed, and we got it. Anyway, good luck with all of this -- and this will help to pay for it!

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  3. LD – Sorry to say, but it does look like you will probably have to confront your sister legally, with an attorney, to get the accounting and other info you want… in my opinion. I have seen it many times before – and people will get away with a lot in that position – unless they are stopped by or with an attorney. Moreover, lawyers are very expensive, and if you don’t have a lot of excess cash around, an infusion of cash to pay for legal help can be found quickly through inheritance loans or probate loans. That’s what you, or anyone expecting an inheritance with low funds and a need for legal counsel, should do -- look into for immediate inheritance advance funds to pay for an attorney, and maybe a CPA, if you are caught up in a long wait like this for an accounting -- and for the inheritance itself. Who is supposed to pay for all this support! One may not have enough ready cash around to pay for a lawyer's involvement, and an accountant's input as well if needed... Naturally the choice of online firm to apply for a fast inheritance advance is very important -- and they should meet some criteria... I looked at a bunch and liked three inheritance advance firms, they are all online strictly -- so they can deal with all states (except probates in Ohio). My wife and I liked the popular probate advance firm www.heiradvance.com, we liked the simplicity of www.inheritanceadvance.com; and we liked the interviews with inheritance loan clients and informative inheritance advance articles on www.inheritancenow.com. The criteria I mentioned was stuff like -- no monthly payments, no interest compounding the overall advance amount; No advance-charges at all, no hidden fees and no employment checks or obsessive insistence on credit reports and credit scores and references and all that jazz... Just nice secure trust inheritance loans and 2 to 3 day probate loans. We needed speed, and we got it. Anyway, good luck with all of this -- and this will help to pay for it! Lynne and other readers here don't mention income or the ability to pay for attorneys and accountants -- however they are right, a demand letter from an estate attorney or so-called probate lawyer is step one -- and the follow up after that may be necessary. But not inexpensive. Once lawyers enter -- the bills mount up quickly. When you consider $450 or $500 per hour or more. Those of you who have cash reserves or investments you can liquidate, you don't need to look into inheritance loans to put together fast cash -- but the rest of us generally do, or would. I certainly did when I was in a similar position, awhile back. An inheritance loan was my only option for quick funds to afford an attorney to protect my interests in an estate I was heir to. So good luck LD and anyone else with similar inheritance or probate estate problems! G Wm

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