Can the administrator of an estate in probate ask the heirs for money?

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Can the administrator of an estate in probate ask the heirs for money?

A friend of mine has a sister who was designated by her father’s Will as administrator of his estate. However, for the past 11 years the estate still is not closed and she has been collecting money from other heirs $300-$400 by demand to put up in the

Asked on June 21, 2019 under Estate Planning, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

No, she cannot legally do this. While it would be legitimate for the adminstator to ask for the heirs to voluntarily contribute money if there are expenses that exceed the liquid or ready cash in the estate (e.g. there is valuable real estate that has tax liens that have to be cleared so the home is not lost, or needs repairs to prevent deterioration), it is *voluntary* for the heirs to contribute: the administrator has no power to compel them to pay and cannot stop them from inheriting or getting their share. That said, if you are living in the home, the administrator does have the power to make you stop living in the home--or to charge you rent for living there--since the property is under her control while it is still in probate and she has the same authority over it that a home's owner has over it. So she cannot "kick you out" of the estate or inheriting, but she can "kick you out" of the home itself if you are living there.
11 years is completely excessive: it does NOT take 11 years to close or probate an estate. You and/or the other heirs may wish to bring a kind of legal action called an action "for an accounting": the court can make the administrator "account for" her conduct and management of the estate, and can order her to do certain things, to repay any money she may have taken or diverted from the estate, or even replace her as adminstrator. An attorney would be very helpful in doing this, but if you want to look into doing this yourself, you should be able to get (or get pointed to) instructions or sample forms by the clerk's office of the probate court.


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