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Richard, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 55285
Experience:  29 years of experience practicing law, including tax and estate planning.
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My mother passed in Feb 2015. I was both her POA and am the

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My mother passed in Feb 2015. I was both her POA and am the Executrix on her estate. I I live in NJ and my brother has asked the accountants office for information regarding her assets from when she came to live with me fiver years ago as to what remained in her estate. The accountants office fowarded the email to the estate lawyer. I might not be understanding but he asked me to provide the info. I thought all I needed to provide him was an accouting of assets upon my mothers death so that he as the estate lawyer can assure my brother that in accordance of the will all assets were dispursed equally? If my brother wants information prior to my mothers passing when I was her POA can or should the estate lawyer be asking this of me? I might be misunderstanding what information he is looking for but if it is anything prior while my mother was alive isn't that a conflict of interest?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Richard replied 2 years ago.
Hi! My name is ***** ***** I look forward to helping you!
These are two completely separate issues. Once your mother died, the POA automatically terminates. At that point, your authority is as executrix named in the will. If your brother wanted to challenge your actions under the POA, he has to actually file suit to claim that you breached your fiduciary duty as POA. But, until he does that, the only issue is the probate assets in the estate of your mom as of the date of her death because it's only under the will that entitles him to any inheritance. It's important also to realize that certain assets pass outside probate and thus are not governed by the will and thus are not within your brother's rights to inherit under the will. These include the following: i) joint brokerage and bank accounts which vest automatically in the surviving owner upon the death of one owner; ii) real property held as joint tenants or tenants by the entirety, which also vest automatically in the surviving owner upon the death of one owner; and iii) assets with designated beneficiaries other than the estate such as life insurance and retirement accounts. And, you are correct, the estate lawyer represents the estate, not your brother. And, it is a conflict of interest to do both. A conflict of interest is a situation in which a person or organization is involved in multiple interests, one of which COULD POSSIBLY corrupt the motivation of the individual or organization. The presence of a conflict of interest is INDEPENDENT of the ACTUAL occurrence of impropriety. Rather, a conflict of interest is a set of circumstances that CREATES A RISK that professional judgment or actions regarding a one interest COULD BE UNDULY INFLUENCED by a second interest. This is clearly the situation in this case. :)
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