My father passed away 02/22/2011.He had a family trust with a trustee that is a lawyer and he also handles the estate.We 3 children signed a waiver on the reading of the will.I did not know what a waiver was.He told me this was standard procedure for him.I think this is taking advantage of families.In the beginning,he began to give me a list of expenses.He stopped sending the expense report and I asked for it and an updated list of assets but have not been given either.What can I do to get an updated list of expenses and list of all assets?I do not want to sign off until I have some facts and numbers. Please tell me what I can do?In Appreciation,Sheryl
State/Country relating to question: Arkansas
Writing a letter to lawyer and executor and also calls to each.
Welcome! My goal is to do my very best to understand your situation and to provide a full and complete answer for you.
Good morning. As a beneficiary to the trust and the estate, you have a right to a copy of the trust and the will. You also have a right to a full accounting of trust and estate assets and every dime in and out of both the trust and the estate. The lawyer, as trustee and a lawyer, has a fiduciary duty to all beneficiaries to provide the foregoing. To the extent a beneficiary makes a demand and the lawyer does not comply, the lawyer breaches that fiduciary duty. In that case, a beneficiary would want to file a petition with the probate court asking: i) the lawyer be removed as trustee and executor of the estate; ii) the lawyer be forced to deliver all financial records of both; iii) that the books be audited to determine if there has been any misappropriation of funds; and iv) if so, that the beneficiaries be awarded actual and punitive damages due to the lawyers breach and bad faith/malfeasance. Also, a formal ethics complaint should be filed with the state bar association.
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Thank you very much for your answers.One more question please.How do I file the claim with court?Should this be done now?
You're welcome. I would first send a demand letter .... sent by certified mail.... demanding all this information be delivered within a short specified period of time. Then, I would have the books audited. If the attorney doesn't timely comply, then the suit would be filed...you'll need an attorney to file this claim on your behalf. If money is an issue, I would suggest you go to your nearest law school. Most of themhave legal clinics that are run by law students and supervised by lawprofessors that will take cases such as yours on a pro-bono basis to help thestudents, who are idealistic, energetic, and very bright, get experience whileunder the watchful tutelage of their law professors.
Who would I ask to audit the books?
You can ask any forensic CPA to do this for you.
Is a forensic CPA the same as a CPA?
Basically, it's just that all CPA's don't really have expertise in auditing books; some do only tax returns. So, you just want to make sure you engage a CPA that has experiencing in auditing.
29 Years Practicing Law - Including Tax and Estate Planning
Thank you! Have A Wonderful Day!
You're welcome. It's been my pleasure working with you! Take care!
Checking in about your Estate Law questionGood Morning Mr.Beacon,I am very appreciative of you and the help you gave me.I have hired a CPA to audit the 2 accounts.Our family used this lawyer for personal matters such as making wills,power of attorney and living wills.I have personal files there in this office.Can I remove them from there?I would like to keep in touch with you until the estate closes.Is this okay with you?Thank You,Sheryl
Good morning. Yes...please do keep in touch. And, yes, you have the right to the release of your personal files.
My pleasure...You have a great day!
Thank you again.
Hello Mr.Beacon,I have not forgotten you.I do have some concerns.The fornesic CPA did audit Daddy's trust and estate.I was satisfied.There is money left to pay expenses and not to be divided and given to the children.Should I have an audit done of that money?I would like to know the best way for me to request my personal files be removed from the lawyer's office.Thank You,Sheryl
Hi there! On the money that's left for expenses, it depends upon the amount we're talking about. At the least, you want invoices to back up any expense paid, and if the amounts and invoices don't match up, and the amount is material, you would want to investigate further. For your files, just send a letter...by certified mail so you have proof of sending and receipt....demanding they be send to you within a short specified period of time. Under the canons of ethics, they must be returned to you.
Good Morning Mr.Beacon,I am asking you to write a short letter for me requesting the lawyer to mail or give me all of my personal files He has been a problem for me during this difficult time.I want him to know this needs to be done when I move back to Arkansas at the end of October 2012.Thank You,Sheryl
Good morning. These letters are generally short and sweet.
I have come to the decision that going forward it is in my best interest to engage another firm to handle my legal affairs. As a result, I will need all my files in your firm's possession sent to me at your earliest convenience, including the originals of any and all executed documents. Please arrange to have these sent to me no later than ______________________. If you have any questions or there is going to be any delay in forwarding these files, please let me know.
Hello Mr.Beacon,Thank you very much for writing the letter for me.I am so appreciative of you and the professional information you have given me.You have very much helped me get through a very difficult time and again I thank you for it.Take Care.Sheryl
You're welcome Sheryl! It's been my pleasure.
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