1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

Odd request by my Aunt's estate executor

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by wahoowad, Jan 12, 2008.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2005
    Messages:
    1,405
    Loc:
    Virginia
    My great aunt (a widow with no children) died recently and her will was very specific about who was to receive her property and assets. She made specific bequeaths to various friends and relatives of either cash or physical items (china and such) and then the remainder was to be split equally between her 3 closest nieces and nephews. I am one of the 3 receiving 1/3 of the remainder (which is also the bulk of her assets).

    Her estate executor is her brother-in-law. He sent me a letter asking me to allow him to give a sizable portion to other nieces and nephews from his side of the family, saying my aunt must have overlooked doing so and that a portion of my aunt's assets came from being married to his brother.

    I don't know any of these people. I do have a copy of her will and my aunt was a very exacting person. Her will clearly identifies each individual she wanted to get something. In fact, she made token cash bequeths to specific neighbors yet did not to these other nieces and nephews. I have a feeling they played no role in her life so she felt no obligation to pass on her estate to them. For all I know there was bad blood or some other specific reason why she chose not to remember them. Who knows.

    Back to the executor. Frankly, I find the request a bit out of line given the role of the executor is to execute the requests of the deceased. I have the option of declining this proposal (it requires all 3 of us to approve) but he will be upset and sits in control of this distribution. Anybody ever have an executor try something funny? Any advice other than quietly declining the request?

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. tutu_sue

    tutu_sue New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2006
    Messages:
    489
    Loc:
    Northern NJ
    Wahoowad, my advice is for you and your relatives to consult an attorney to deal with the executor and protect your inheritance. The executor may then change his tune. The executor can really be a wrench in the works if he/she wants to, slow things to a snails pace and I understand that there are ways that executors and their attornies can re-distribute assets to other parties in order to avoid paying taxes, blah, blah, blah etc. and maximize the total value of the estate (yeah how much each person gets doesn't always matter).
  3. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,705
    Loc:
    Central NYS
    I'd say nice try, buddy, and get a lawyer like tutu_sue suggests. I think he should be disqualified for attempting to undermine your Aunt's explicit wishes.

    They can call you every kind of greedy bastard in the book (and they probably will), but the fact is that people draw up wills because they want to control the disposition of their assets. Unless there is some evidence that they were coerced or mentally incompetent, nobody has a right, in my opinion, to monkey around with their wishes. And that includes you. Come to think of it, I wouldn't give him the satisfaction of knowing who did and who didn't vote for his suggestion, if you can avoid it. Can you just say, "we talked about it and couldn't reach a consensus to do it, so sorry. Nice try. Any questions, please call my lawyer."

    The suggestion that her late husband's estate is being plundered by your side of the family would really stick in my craw. If he wanted them to have a share of his estate, he should have written that into his will. Whatever your aunt inherited from him when he died became hers to distribute any way she wanted. Like you say, wahoo, how do you know what her relationship with these people was? Maybe she hated their guts.
  4. ozarkjeep

    ozarkjeep New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2006
    Messages:
    407
    as if a death in the family werent bad enough, you have to deal with this sort of petty crap.

    IM sorry.

    get a lawyer, tell the 'executor' to piss up wind.
  5. amkazen

    amkazen New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2007
    Messages:
    68
    Loc:
    Albuquerque, NM
    Run, do not walk, to the nearest attorney! What you have to pay an attorney is nothing to what the executor will cost you. The executor has already shown you his true colors. Your aunt should have given every niece & nephew a token something and that would have shown her intent. Now, the family members who received nothing could possibly bring suit claiming your aunt was not of sound mind, forgot, etc. The suit would probably not prevail but your life in the interim would not be fun, and probably what money the estate had could be lost due to the suit. You do not need to deal with the executor as your attorney can do that. It would be nice if one letter from an attorney answering the executors request might be enough to get the executor to back off...might.... Good luck.
  6. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2005
    Messages:
    917
    Loc:
    Deltaville,VA
    Absolutely have a lawyer reply to the letter. The executor is WAY out of line.

    If the other 2/3 are hard up for money, they will not want to see this tied up legally for months or years.
  7. saichele

    saichele Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    507
    Remember that in situations like this, it's not just the appearance of greed that can be dangerous (as Eric suggests) but actually being greedy. Now it sounds like your aunt was pretty specific, but maybe the executor has some good reason for believing there was an oversight. Get a lawyer, but I'd caution against going in with both guns blazing. It's not about whether you get the money, it's about what your aunt would have wanted. Maybe the other 2/3 know there was a reason why the aunt excluded some people from the will; maybe she was a little senile or something. But if you couch (and truly think about it) as an effort to understand and faithfully fulfill your aunt's dying wishes, that's going to go a lot better than saying 'you deserve it' or 'it's mine.' If the executor has no basis for overruling the will, he doesn't really have a leg to stand on, and won't be able to make any distributions until you (and maybe the other 2/3) drop their objections. If you don't need the money, just let it ride and sooner or later he'll get tired of dealing with it.

    Steve
  8. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2007
    Messages:
    3,450
    Loc:
    Arrow Bridge,NY
    That guys got BALLS !!!!!!!!
  9. Cath

    Cath Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2007
    Messages:
    292
    He could easily regret putting that request in writing. Arguably he has demonstrated an indirect conflict of interest.

    Do you know where the other two beneficiaries stand on this? As another poster pointed out the tactful approach would be to have a spokesperson get back to him and say you've given it careful consideration but you can't reach a consensus.

    Depending upon his reaction and how things go from there you may need to consider consulting an attorney and see about removing him. Tough luck on him since he'll be losing up to as much as 3% of the estate. On the other hand, if you are close to winding things down an attorney may advise you to come up with a nominal amount the three of you can agree on (maybe one or two thousand per niece/nephew??) to expedite things. You could easily spend way more than that if things get ugly.

    If you know that his percentage/fee is already fixed you might suggest that he rectify this "oversight" out of his fee. If it isn't fixed that suggestion might encourage him to try and increase it. And my guess is this might antagonize him in which case he could find some subtle ways to draw things out unnecessarily. Which brings me back to my suggestion about "buying your peace".

    As a practical matter, are there any other beneficiaries on that side of the family that may be harmed (e.g.: delayed inheritance) if he starts playing these kinds of games? If so, there may be a strong disincentive to be a complete jerk.

    Good luck. My Dad occasionally reminds me that any financial incentive in these matters is skewed towards "exhausting" the estate.

    ~Cath
  10. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2005
    Messages:
    1,405
    Loc:
    Virginia
    So far all he's done is make a request, and if I don't let my imagination run wild, it could easily just be no more than that. He's an older gentleman and maybe his heart is in the right place in trying to secure a lasting good memory for his nieces/nephews of my aunt.

    That said, he also had a career in the business world and surely must understand the delicate nature of his fiduciary duties. Perhaps he thinks some "common sense" and agreement by others is sufficient to alter the terms of some one's last will and testament. Unfortunately I am dead set against that. I would turn in my grave if someone redirected my final financial intentions.

    The other 2 beneficiaries agreed to the proposal. One thought the request was questionable but this person is so wealthy they felt it better to agree and not create ill will. I'm the stick in the mud.

    The executor has learned that I declined the offer. He called to talk but we've agreed to talk about it next week (I was busy at work). I can explain my concerns although I'm inclined to not get into the details and instead ask that we postpone entertaining any proposals until after the will has been executed. I might even be more willing to entertain the request once it is no longer a direct contradiction tot he will. Once I have my distribution it becomes my decision about my inheritance, not altering my aunt's clear intentions. Hopefully it also puts him in a position of wanting to execute the will quickly to stay in my good favor. The idea of a counter proposal of a lesser amount is also worth considering (down the road).
  11. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    27,297
    Loc:
    Northern Virginia
    1. If the will was drawn up by an attorney he damned sure didn't omit asking her about bequests to her husband's family and possible challenges to the distribution. She didn't forget that side of the family. Good grief she made one of the the Executor.

    2. A request by him to alter the distribution in favor of his kids passes no smell test on Earth.

    3. You have to question your right to alter your aunt's documented wishes. Maybe she hated those peoples guts.
  12. Rick

    Rick Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2005
    Messages:
    185
    Loc:
    Connecticut
    I would fight this tooth and nail. Let the other two give more money if they are so generous. Your aunt gave you the money, she must've wanted you to have it, so now it is yours. Maybe I'm just a jerk, but I wouldn't back down. On a side note, most tax attorneys recommend specifically naming every blood relative in your will with a token cash amount (like $1) just to avoid these exact problems.
  13. Cath

    Cath Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2007
    Messages:
    292
    My initial reaction was pretty cynical. My mom has been an executor of two different relative's estates and she didn't get any sort of fee. Having said that, she followed the decedent's wishes to the letter in each case.

    It's entirely possible that he is just trying to right a perceived wrong even though he realizes that the will outlines exactly what she wanted. Which doesn't necessarily make him a horrible person.

    However, it would be nice if you could at least get the other two to back burner this until everything is settled as an incentive to wind this down quickly which probably translates into costing the estate less money, which may put you in a more generous frame of mind.
    ~Cath
  14. Poult

    Poult Member

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2008
    Messages:
    109
    Loc:
    Northern NYS
    I don't think this is possible. You can either accept what is left to you in a will, or you have to refuse the whole thing. This happened in my family. One member thought he was getting too much from an aunt's estate, and he wanted to take some of his share and distribute it to some cousins who were receiving a smaller amount. He was told by the attorney that he had to take all or nothing. He took nothing so the cousins would receive more. What actually happened was ALL family members mentioned in the will received more from the moneys he refused, not just the cousins who got the least. Some members who were getting a very large share of the estate got most of the bequest he refused.

    This illustrates that the will is executed just as it as written. No one else has the legal right to change that. The only way it can be changed is if it's challenged.

    He's trying to rewrite his sis in law's will. She had her reasons for what she did. Stand firm and say no.


    Poult
  15. DavidV

    DavidV New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2005
    Messages:
    792
    Loc:
    Richmond VA
    I think the best bet is for an attorney to answer the request....but if that seems heavy handed, I would tell him that Her "last will and testement" was her final effort to influence those she left behind. As such you do not plan to second guess her instructions.
  16. My_3_Girls

    My_3_Girls Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2006
    Messages:
    147
    Loc:
    Massachusetts

    First semester community college class on family law - if someone dies without naming every person that 'should' be due some inheritance, the will will be sent to probate. I agree, give everyone a dollar to stiff them, but even that's not needed. Name everyone, and the will can procede unimpeded.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page