I'm the executor of my aunt's 2 million dollar estate with 23 heirs. She passed away in 2010 and the estate is still open. The past six months the estate attorney has told me that his tax accountant is handling the estate taxes. However, the attorney won't give me his name or provide an itemized accounting for his hours spent on estate taxes, though I've asked three times. The attorney also won't provide an itemized accounting for his own time. He just keeps stalling and postponing. Meanwhile I fear he and the tax accountant are milking the estate for their charges. What can I do? They are in Illinois, but I am in California.
Country relating to Question: United States
State (if USA): Illinois
repeated emails and calls are either ignored, answered partially or evasively.
If the attorney is not responsive to you as the executor, this is a breach of his duty to the estate. You, as executor, have a duty to protect the estate and have the information regarding the process of the estate. If the attorney refuses to provide such information, as executor you have the grounds to seek to remove the attorney and replace them. If he is not responding to you appropriately, before you consider replacing him, you need to send him a letter informing him that as executor he has a duty under the rules of professional conduct to communicate with you and his failure to provide you the information is a breach of those rules and you again ask your questions and tell him if he does not respond appropriately you will have to consider taking other legal action. Then if he fails to communicate, you can file a complaint with the Illinois Bar Disciplinary Counsel and terminate the attorney's services and hire a new attorney to take over.
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I wrote the letter summarizing the last four months of his partial, evasive, or non-existent answers. I then listed my requests and gave him 10 days to respond with the information. Today I received an email from him that says "Ouch- I will call you next week- I don’t think you want anyone but me closing faye’s estate as we are close-let me know if you are available Tuesday pm." I really dont want to talk to him, I just want him to give me the information I've requested. I also don't like the flippant way he responded. What next steps to recommend I take?
You need to speak to him though, that has been part of the problem you have been having with him, lack of communication. It was likely your letter hit a nerve with him and pointed out how he has not been communicating and he realized it. You should just prepare yourself for an open discussion with him and explain how the lack of communication has led to this letter and the problem you are having with him. If you do not get the answers you like when you speak with him, then you can make your decision to terminate his services.
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