Estate Law Questions? Ask an Estate Lawyer.
Hi; My goal is to provide you with great service - if you have any questions during our chat, please ask! I'll do my best to ensure your satisfaction! I am very sorry to hear of this situation. Unfortunately, often when money is involved, upon a loved one's passing, it can create havoc in the family; unknown jealousies and such come to light. You are probably being berated because your father named you executor/trustee over your siblings. However, that is no excuse for their actions. Your attorney should write a letter to the other attorney that is representing your sisters, stating that their actions (frivolous inquiries) are resulting in unnecessary expense to the estate, which is costly to all beneficiaries. Since you need to consult with your attorney every time a request is made, the estate is incurring attorney fees. Also, in the case of the nephew, you can either press criminal charges, or get a restraining order.
You also have the option, if this becomes too much, of stepping down from your role, but I am assuming you would prefer not to do that, since your father indicated his wish that you handle his affairs.
If the trust provided for trustee fees, you may want to use this as negotiation - ie have your attorney draft a letter to the siblings, stating that overseeing the trust has proven to be very time consuming and contentious, and so you intend to collect the fee as specified in the trust; but that you would be willing to forsake it and have it revert back to the estate if the remainder of the process proves to be civil.
Generally, the idea of a trust is to keep it private and without court intervention. However, if the heirs prove to be unmanageable, you can petition the court for supervision of the trust, until full distribution is achieved. This will obviously take away from the assets of the trust, and this should also be addressed in the letter.
If supervision becomes necessary, the the fees generally become those associated with a standard probate case, which is governed by probate code 10180, and they start out at 4% of the value of the assets. This would presumably be ample enough to encourage the siblings to wish to avoid court supervision.
Here is the statute that governs trustee compensation - you will see that the court is free to set a "reasonable" amount of compensation, taking into consideration the circumstances. This statute should also be quoted in the letter. http://law.justia.com/codes/california/2010/prob/15680-15688.html
Presumably, once they see that their actions will cost them money, versus just head/heart ache for you, this would serve as ample motivation for them to behave accordingly.
Thank you for your response. Yes their is jealousy and greed here. After 6 months I finally came to that realization. The trust was changed last Dec. 2012 when my Dad was brought home from the hospital, the one sister making the most trouble was added on at the insistance of another sister and then one sister was named on one parcel of property. My Dad had told me for years he did not want the one sister on the trust because she would only cause trouble. He was so right! I wish I knew this was all going to happen and insisted my father not add her on like the estate attorney did.
This a very unfriendly settlement. I will bring your information to my estate attorney. Something has to be done. No one should have to be bullied, threatened and harassed just because they were named as executor of a will. I have asked my attorney where my protection is and he says that I'm protected. I don't feel that I'm protected though. I'm aware their actions are costing money for both sides. Hopefully your suggestions will make them realize it also. I appreciate your time and advise. Thank you!
You are very welcome. I hope this works out for you. Remember, if your attorney does not seem concerned with your situation, there are many compassionate attorneys out there who will help you with this dilemma. There are solutions, as stated above, so your attorney should be proactive in protecting you in your role as executor.
Thank you again for peace of mind with all of this. I will bring all of this to my attorney's attention.
Good to hear. Take care, and good luck on all this.