Help For Estate Beneficiaries

By Brian C. Caffrey
As we all know, millions of baby boomers are retired or retiring, and many have been able to save or accumulate considerable wealth. Thus, many baby boomers die leaving what most people would consider a fortune. After one's spouse, the natural objects of one's bounty are one's children.
Siblings are not only blood relatives; they are rivals of one another. Once the authoritative influence of a parent is gone, estate beneficiaries often scratch and scramble for every dollar they can get from their parent's estate, by legitimate or illegitimate means. Who is in charge of all this? Who decides who gets what?
The first person in authority is the decedent herself. She has the power to decide who gets what by making a will. After she dies, someone must execute that will, hence the term “executor.” People with children typically pick one or more of their children to serve as executors. The law gives executors a great deal of power and authority over the “estate,” that is, the money and other property left behind by the decedent.
What if the executor doesn't “well and truly administer the estate,” as she has sworn to do? After all, the executor is also likely a beneficiary of the estate, and has her own interests to pursue. Who will force her to do so? The only person who can do so is a judge of the Orphans' Court, which has jurisdiction over estates and the executors who administer them.
Executors are required to carry out the provisions of the decedent's will. Sometimes they don't, but pursue their own interests. However, there are ways to hold executors accountable, by asking the Court to order them to file a detailed accounting of their administration of the estate, for example.
I've been involved in a number of very difficult cases of this type. If you find that you're being kept in the dark concerning the administration of a relative's estate, call our office at 717 657 7770 and we'll see if I can help you.

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