What if you run out of money in the middle of an estate suit?

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What if you run out of money in the middle of an estate suit?

We were POA for my mother in law. One
beneficiary has hired an attorney Because she
didnt agree with how much money was left in
the estate. We are now required to provide an
accounting, which I understand is very costly.
We do not have any more resources to pay for
this accounting or to keep the attorney we
currently have been using. We have already
spent 12,000 of our own money.

Asked on September 28, 2017 under Estate Planning, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If the estate was sued, or you were sued as the estate's executor, personal representative, or administrator (i.e. for things you did only in your official role, after being appointed or approved for it by the courts, in managing the estate), the estate should pay you legal bills: defending itself, or defending its executor, etc. for doing his/her job, is a legitimate estate expense. In this case, you should be able to legally tap estate funds to pay for the litigation, and you should be able to submit a written motion to the court to have the estate pay you back for any litigation expenses incurred.
HOWEVER, if you are being sued for things you did pre-estate, i.e. as your mother-in-law's POA (for example, that you took, hide, used for yourself, or wasted her money while she was still alive), or did after your mother-in-law's passing but *not* as part of your official duties as the appointed executor, personal representative, or adminstrator (e.g. if after her death, it is alleged that you used your access to her accounts or property to take her money or belongings), then any legal costs, etc. are not estate expenses: they do not come out of the operation of the estate or the activities of the estate's appointed representative in doing his/her job. Rather, defending yourself from a suit about you did not in an estate capacity is your own expense, and you have to pay it or else represent yourself in court.


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.

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