How to force an executor to distribute funds to heirs

The executor’s (or administrator’s) primary duty is to liquidate the estate’s assets and distribute money to all beneficiaries named in the will or to distributees if there was no will. There are ways to legally compel an executor to act:
1. After a reasonable time (6-9 months) you can demand that the executor provide an accounting of all estate assets.

2. If the executor does not respond, you can ask the court to issue a citation compelling the executor to file a judicial accounting of all estate assets.

3. If the executor still does not respond, you can as the judge to issue a warrant of commitment. Once issued, the sheriff will arrest the executor and remand him/her to court. The judge can then send the executor to jail for contempt and keep the executor jailed until he/she provides an accurate accounting.

4. Or the judge can revoke Letters Testamentary and replace the executor with another family member or the Public Administrator (PA) to take over the Estate duties.

If you are an heir who is being ignored by the executor or administrator, I can help you.
For more information call or email me at 212-693-3737 or j.weinstein@jlwlawoffices.com.

Can A Common Law Spouse Become An Administrator?

Not all family members may become an administrator of a decedent’s estate. The general rule is that a surviving spouse has first priority, followed by surviving adult children.

A common law spouse does not have an automatic right to become an administrator. However, he/she can be appointed as the administrator after the consent of the closest living heirs.

A common law spouse, who is not legally married to the decedent, cannot be appointed administrator.

If a party has a criminal record with a felony conviction, he/she cannot become a fiduciary.

In case no one comes forward to administer the estate, or if no individual is deemed qualified, then the County Public Administrator may be appointed for this purpose.

In many circumstances, the court may require the administrator to obtain a surety bond. If the proposed administrator has bad credit and cannot obtain a bond he/she cannot become an administrator.

When you meet with me, I will be able to assess who in your family may qualify as an administrator.

For more information call or email me at 212-693-3737 or j.weinstein@jlwlawoffices.com.

How to deal with family conflict in Estate Matters

In this modern world of multi marriages, divorces and step children, Will contests and objections to probate are more and more common!!

There are ways to deal with these conflicts to resolve differences without going to trial. The best advice is for parents to do estate planning, which includes preparing a Last Will and perhaps a Trust document. Preparing a personal letter(s) to heirs explaining one’s intention prior to death is an excellent idea but rarely followed.

A Will challenge can be based on three (3) Theories:

1. The will is defective on its face; the will may be missing essential elements.

2. Incapacity, the deceased did not have testamentary capacity to make a will.

3. Undue influence.

A valid Will must be witnessed by two disinterested parties. A challenge of incapacity must be based on medical records and medical conditions at the time the Will was executed. Undue influence is difficult to prove unless a new will was created in favor of a non-family member when the decedent was ill or infirm. When a conflict arises between siblings, a cross petition and or an objection to Probate/Administration may be filed. Extensive discovery proceeding may uncover clues to the decedent’s testamentary intentions.

In many cases, a resolution may be reached in a court supervised settlement conference. I have extensive experience reaching out of court settlement, resolution of disputes between once “close” family members.

For more information call or email me at 212-693-3737 or j.weinstein@jlwlawoffices.com
LOCATING MISSING ESTATE ASSETS.