Once probate has begun, it is natural for beneficiaries to want to know what is in the estate.
But, does an executor have to show an accounting of assets and expenses to the beneficiaries?
What can you do if the executor refuses?
These situations can be very frustrating and often lead to suspicions that the executor may not be handling things correctly.
My name is Erik Broel & I am the founder & CEO of Georgia Probate Law Group.
At our firm we help families who have lost a loved one navigate the complex and confusing legal process so they can make sure the estate is handled properly and their loved one’s memory is honored.
What’s Normal In Georgia?
Generally, Georgia law requires the executor to file an inventory and annual returns with the probate court.
The will may exempt the executor from that requirement. If that is the case, then the executor will not be required to file formal reports with the probate court.
Even when formal reports are not required, however, it is common for the executor to provide informal reports to the beneficiaries so that everyone knows what is going on with the estate.
When we represent executors, we recommend that they provide these informal reports because we believe that transparency promotes good relationships.
Besides that, when a beneficiary requests an update or informal report and the executor refuses, it can leave the beneficiary feeling suspicious.
That leads to a very common question: “If everything were above board, why would the executor refuse to provide some simple information?”
What Can You Do If An Executor Refuses To Show An Accounting?
Fortunately, Georgia probate law provides a mechanism to handle situations like this.
If you suspect that the executor could be handling the estate improperly, a petition may be filed with the probate court requesting the executor to file a formal accounting.
This type of accounting is different from an inventory an annual returns. As a result, it can be requested even if the will exempts the executor from filing an inventory.
Situations like this can get complicated quickly and there are often hidden landmines you must navigate around. As a result, I do not recommend you try to handle it on your own. Please call our office and we would be happy to help.
Everything discussed in this article is for general information and is not legal advice.
If you are in a situation where you feel like the executor is not meeting expectations, I recommend you reach out to our office at (770) 920-6030 to set up a consultation.
If you’re not quite ready for a consultation, be sure to download our Georgia Probate Handbook so you know how the estate is supposed to be handled.