We were asked to help administer an estate in which two siblings, who cannot agree whether the sun rises in the east, were the main beneficiaries. The estate was not too large, under a million dollars, and had as many non-probate assets as probate assets. The hope was that we could navigate the waters peacefully.
One of the siblings was the named executor of the Last Will & Testament. The other, non-executor sibling, brought the paperwork to his attorney (not Mateya Law Firm; we were brought in to try to restore the peace) without the executor’s knowledge. Wait, shouldn’t that Attorney know that he has to work for the executor, not the beneficiary-only sibling who happened to be his client prior to this estate? Perhaps in a perfect world that would be so, but not in this case. That attorney proceeded to advise on the administration of the estate, working in the best interest of his former client, not the estate or the executor.
When Mateya Law Firm was hired by the executor, the situation had already unraveled. Physical assets, which should have been secured, were missing. Locks on the decedent’s house were changed, and then changed again. The attorney refused to turn over files which clearly belonged to the estate. Money which should have gone directly to beneficiaries was deposited into the estate account on the advice of the attorney who was not representing the estate or the executor. It was quite an ordeal.
As I write this blog, things have calmed down, but not because of willing agreements between the parties. It was because there is one authorized representative – the executor. Slowly, methodically, we are dealing with each item, each asset, and following the standard timeline of administration. We are being well-received by the bankers and financial advisors. The other attorney though, not so much. The beneficiaries are being treated fairly and evenly, just as the decedent wished. We are surely earning our money on this one.