Learn Important Probate Essentials, including key things that go wrong in an estate, how to prevent them, and what to do if they happen.
It can be one of the most frustrating things in the world. A loved one has passed away and another relative is serving as executor or administrator. You felt good when the probate process started and you were looking forward to seeing your loved one’s affairs settled in a peaceful and fair manner. You thought everything was going well, but once your relative was officially appointed as administrator or executor, communication just stopped. What do you do now?
When this happens, it is easy for our suspicions to get the best of us – is the executor or administrator doing something underhanded? Or, is he or she just overwhelmed?
Here are some simple steps to take to help you determine whether you should be concerned:
1. Reach out. This one may seem obvious, but if you have not tried to reach out by phone, email, and text message, do so. Don’t just wait on the executor or administrator to call you. Be proactive and contact them. We recommend that you remain cordial, but let them know you would like to get an idea of what is going on and that you would like more regular updates.
2. Send a letter. If casually reaching out does not work, try sending a letter by mail. If you want it to look very formal, use certified mail. While there is no legal effect of using certified mail, it does tend to let the other person know that you’re serious. In your letter, tell the executor or administrator that you are concerned about the status of the estate and that, despite your calls and emails, you have not heard back from them, and you really need to know what is going on.
3. Decide if you want to take more serious action. If the executor or administrator remains silent even after repeated calls, emails, texts, and a letter or two, you need to think very seriously about whether you need to take more formal action. All steps beyond this point will require that you take action in the Probate Court. It could be a request that the executor or administrator account for all funds and property of the estate, or it could be a petition to remove the executor or administrator and a request for sanctions against them, among other options. The good news, though, is that if you decide to proceed with taking more serious action in Probate Court, the executor or administrator will no longer be able to ignore you – you will get information and answers about what has been happening with the estate.
Probate disputes are complicated, and we strongly recommend that you contact our office to help you select and implement the appropriate strategy for your case.
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