I am a beneficiary to a will that has taken almost 4 years without a settlement. The attorney and executor have not responded to questions concerning the excessive time to probate the will. In a rare email from the executor, he claimed that the attorney does not respond to his inquiries. This is a disgrace and has dragged on long enough. I think additional attorney and executor fees will consume most of the final estate distribution. Is an accounting something I can initiate by myself or is a attorney required?
Pa Last Wills
Assets – Title With Care
- John Ownership
- Beneficiary Designations
Assets – Transfers – Get Advice Before The Bombs Go Off
Estate Planning Documents – Keep Updated
- Laws Change
- People Change
“Bosses” (Fiduciaries) – Choose Very Carefully
- Are They Able?
- Are They Willing?
John B. Whalen, Jr., J.D., LL.M. is an AV Peer Review Rated Preeminent 5.0 (Attorney and Counselor at Law, is listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, and is Avvo Rated 10.0 Superb (obtaining over 30 client reviews and peer endorsements).
Four primary documents tend to form the foundation of most good estate plans.
Although each of these documents addresses different situations, be aware that each of these documents also shares similar attributes. A succinct review of each follows.
Pa Estate Law – Pa Powers of Attorney
- A Power of Attorney can grant
- your boss (“Agent”)
- the ability to control all of your affairs.
Pa Estate Law – Pa Living Wills
- A “Living Will” can grant
- your boss (“Surrogate”)
- the ability to execute your end of life decisions.
Pa Estate Law – Pa Last Wills
- A Pa Last Will can grant
- your boss (“Executor”)
- the ability to administer your Estate..
Pa Estate Law – Pa Trusts
- A Pa Trust can grant
- your boss (“Trustee”)
- the ability to manage your Trust.
Pa Last Wills – Asset Titles
A Pa Last Will does not control all of your assets. A Pa Last Will does not dispose of assets that have:
- Joint Owners (i.e., joint accounts, joint real estate, etc.) and/or
- Beneficiary Designations (i.e., annuities, retirement plans, etc.)
Pa Last Wills – Asset Titles – Note
- Joint Owners pass to the surviving owners (via Property Law) and
- Beneficiary Designations pass to the named beneficiaries (via Contract Law).
Under Pennsylvania law, the proper terms for the persons in charge of your Estate Planning documents are called your “fiduciaries” and I refer to these people – those in charge – as the “Bosses.” Each boss has powers, and these powers can be summarized very simply.
Pa Estate Law – 5 – Powers – Summary
- Agent (under a Power of Attorney) can help manage all of your affairs.
- Surrogate (under an Advance Directive for Health Care) can execute your end of life decisions.
- Executor (under a Will) can administer your Estate.
- Trustee (under a Trust) can monitor and manage your Trust.
Pa Estate Law – 5 – Powers – Note
Again, and although a technical knowledge of the parameters of these various powers can be useful, it is not the point of this article. The focus is to illustrate that an Agent, a Surrogate, an Executor, and a Trustee can generally possess broad powers to act for you under that respective document.