How do I save assets from 2 entangled estates with people stealing money

My mother passed away almost 9 years ago with my brother as executor. He never settled her estate and stole a great deal of money from the estate. He passed away 4 years ago leaving his friend, a crooked estate attorney as executor and that person wont give an accounting for the years my brother was executor. I want to save as much assets as I can. Can I get money from this crooked executor?

Asked on June 2, 2018 under Estate Planning, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

You can bring a legal action in probate or surrogates court, commonly called an action for an "accounting," in which an interested party (e.g. an heir or beneficiary, such as yourself) asks the court to make the executor "account" for his conduct. If the executor is found to have failed to follow the will, to have taken or diverted money to himself or his family/friends/business associates (e.g. to have stolen money), and/or to have been negligent (unreasonably careless) in how he managed the estate, the court has the power to order him to repay the estate amounts he can be shown to have taken from it. The court can also order him to take actions to wrap up the estate and distribute the assets remaining in it to the heirs; and/or can remove a crooked or incompetent executor and replace him with someone else.
This can potentially be a long, difficult and expensive action to bring, since it could involve extensively analyzing lots of records, calling expert witnesses to testify as to what should have been done with assets under these circumstances, and either making or responding to lots of "discovery" requests (requests for information or documents) and motions. If you have the chance to settle for 1/3 to 1/2 of the total you think you are owed, you may wish to take it, to avoid the cost, time, and uncertainty (since you never know the outcome in advance) of a lawsuit.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

You can bring a legal action in probate or surrogates court, commonly called an action for an "accounting," in which an interested party (e.g. an heir or beneficiary, such as yourself) asks the court to make the executor "account" for his conduct. If the executor is found to have failed to follow the will, to have taken or diverted money to himself or his family/friends/business associates (e.g. to have stolen money), and/or to have been negligent (unreasonably careless) in how he managed the estate, the court has the power to order him to repay the estate amounts he can be shown to have taken from it. The court can also order him to take actions to wrap up the estate and distribute the assets remaining in it to the heirs; and/or can remove a crooked or incompetent executor and replace him with someone else.
This can potentially be a long, difficult and expensive action to bring, since it could involve extensively analyzing lots of records, calling expert witnesses to testify as to what should have been done with assets under these circumstances, and either making or responding to lots of "discovery" requests (requests for information or documents) and motions. If you have the chance to settle for 1/3 to 1/2 of the total you think you are owed, you may wish to take it, to avoid the cost, time, and uncertainty (since you never know the outcome in advance) of a lawsuit.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.