What to do if I have serious concerns about self-dealing by a personal representative on an estate?

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What to do if I have serious concerns about self-dealing by a personal representative on an estate?

My sister is the Personal Representative on our parent’s estate. She is nearly done with the estate and is now trying to keep the rest of the cash. She is trying to rescind a house appraisal, dumpster fees, estate sale personnel and much more. The estate has very little money left and she is trying to keep it by saying that she was forced to agree to these expenses and is using them to help charge off the remaining cash. Is there any attorney that can help with self-dealing and assist with a demand letter?

Asked on February 19, 2016 under Estate Planning, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

As an interest party (an heir or beneficiary), you would have standing to bring a legal action in surrogates or probate or chancery court (it may go by any of these names) to seek an "accounting" of how the personal representative discharged her duty. If she is found to have engaged in self-dealing, she can forced to repay the amounts she improperly took. An attorney would likely charge several thousand dollars (or more) to work on a case like this, which can require going through a lot of documentation, analyzing expenses, and making or defending several motions and possibly spending days in court; depending on the size of the estate and how much you think she may have improperly taken, it might make more sense for you to try to bring the action yourelf, pro se. (Remember: winning a court case is never guaranteed; you could spend a great deal on legal fees and still lose.) If you elect to do this, you can get instructions and forms from the court.


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