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  1. #1
    David S is offline Junior Member
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    Is my attorney hiding something from us?

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? TN

    My grandfather passed away in January of this year, it took until April to get the will to probate. He owned no property only investments and life insurance.
    They found one investment overlooked by the bank where they left my ex step grandmothers name on it. My father thought this was personal property and was in his name and going to him but the way I make out from hearsay they are trying to get her name off the investment. (Over $100k).
    My thought is that it should go to the estate and be distributed as per my grandfathers instructions?
    The problem is that I have been emailing the attorney for 3 weeks looking for an update letter explaining what is going on as it has now been in probate for 7 weeks. In 3 weeks he sent one email saying he was going to get out a letter. After 3 weeks i told him in a polite way that I would not try to contact him again and that I did not feel my best interests were being looked after and that he and my father seemed to be hiding information from the beneficiaries.
    After that email he replied back with a "sorry I've been swamped". I replied that we (brother, sister, and I) wanted to have a list of investments and to know what was going on with the investment with the name mix up because my dad refuses to give us any information and we feel it is our right to know. When my dad filed he told us we would all have way more than needed to purchase a house and now he claims we may not be getting much of anything.

    My brother sister and I want to know what is going on, we want to know why it seems something is being done behind our backs. The attorney says he has not put the information together to give us a list of estate holdings. He and my dad seem to be hiding something and avoiding questions about it, they both want to pretend they don't know what is going on with it, and I find that hard to believe.

    So what can I do, my dad gave him all the information to go to probate including a list of holdings. There is not that many investments, maybe 3 so why does this attorney keep dodging the questions and seem to be using his lack of knowledge to prolong giving a straight answer ? Could they be trying to put the investment into my fathers name solely?
    Are they hiding something or is it normal?

    If it matters, the will lists me as executor if my father can not fulfill his duties.
    Last edited by David S; 05-24-2009 at 11:44 AM. Reason: Spelling
  2. #2
    BlondiePB is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by David S View Post
    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? TN

    My grandfather passed away in January of this year, it took until April to get the will to probate. He owned no property only investments and life insurance.
    They found one investment overlooked by the bank where they left my ex step grandmothers name on it. My father thought this was personal property and was in his name and going to him but the way I make out from hearsay they are trying to get her name off the investment. (Over $100k).
    My thought is that it should go to the estate and be distributed as per my grandfathers instructions?
    The problem is that I have been emailing the attorney for 3 weeks looking for an update letter explaining what is going on as it has now been in probate for 7 weeks. In 3 weeks he sent one email saying he was going to get out a letter. After 3 weeks i told him in a polite way that I would not try to contact him again and that I did not feel my best interests were being looked after and that he and my father seemed to be hiding information from the beneficiaries.
    After that email he replied back with a "sorry I've been swamped". I replied that we (brother, sister, and I) wanted to have a list of investments and to know what was going on with the investment with the name mix up because my dad refuses to give us any information and we feel it is our right to know. When my dad filed he told us we would all have way more than needed to purchase a house and now he claims we may not be getting much of anything.

    My brother sister and I want to know what is going on, we want to know why it seems something is being done behind our backs. The attorney says he has not put the information together to give us a list of estate holdings. He and my dad seem to be hiding something and avoiding questions about it, they both want to pretend they don't know what is going on with it, and I find that hard to believe.

    So what can I do, my dad gave him all the information to go to probate including a list of holdings. There is not that many investments, maybe 3 so why does this attorney keep dodging the questions and seem to be using his lack of knowledge to prolong giving a straight answer ? Could they be trying to put the investment into my fathers name solely?
    Are they hiding something or is it normal?

    If it matters, the will lists me as executor if my father can not fulfill his duties.
    Is step grandma still alive?

    The will has only been in probate for about a month which is not a very long time. The estate attorney represents the Personal Representative who appears to be your father.

    When accounts have a designated beneficiary, the monies go to the beneficiary and are not part of the probate estate.
  3. #3
    David S is offline Junior Member
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    Yes she is still alive, but the will states she gets nothing.
    So basically he represents my dad and not all the beneficiaries?
    I understand the last statement but the way I understand it is that they are trying to have her name removed as a beneficiary and have it replaced but no one will say who they are trying to get the money for.

    I do not have a relationship with my dad and it would not put it past him to try and have the money put in his name only, is that possible?

    The will says clearly multiple times she gets nothing under any circumstances so if they do get her removed who will it go to?
    He says he will split it with us (4 ways) rather than the 6 the way the will spells out (it includes 2 great grand kids mine and my sisters)
    He was not happy with that which is why I think they are truing to do something with the money and he and the attorney keep stalling.

    Local probate says 4 months so I am taking it as though it is basically half way through.

    The attorney told me before he was hired that I would receive an update on every single thing he did pertaining to the will and I have never received anything from him at all other than a copy of the will.
    The whole things just seems as though he and my dad are hiding something.
    Do I have any legal right to be informed of the dealings of this or am I at their mercy and have to trust them?

    I just want to know what is going on and where we stand and that seems to be near impossible to find out. All I can get is they don't really know and have not had time to look at it.
  4. #4
    anteater is offline Senior Member
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    They found one investment overlooked by the bank where they left my ex step grandmothers name on it. My father thought this was personal property and was in his name and going to him but the way I make out from hearsay they are trying to get her name off the investment.
    "Name on it" is not a legal term. Any response here about what is going on (or should go on) would be sheer speculation.

    The personal representative's responsibilities for filing an inventory and notification to beneficiaries in TN are:

    30-2-301. Making inventory — Return — Notice to beneficiaries. —

    (a) The personal representative, within sixty (60) days after entering on the administration of a testate or intestate estate, shall make a complete and accurate inventory of the probate estate of the deceased, and return the inventory to the clerk of the court exercising probate jurisdiction in the county of the estate, and verify it by the personal representative's oath before the clerk or before any person authorized by law to administer oaths in such cases whether within or without the borders of the state of Tennessee. When the will of the deceased excuses the requirement for making and filing an inventory of the estate, or when excused by all of the residuary distributees or legatees, no inventory shall be required of a solvent estate, unless demanded by any residuary distributee or legatee of the estate.

    (b) (1) Except as provided in subdivision (b)(4), the personal representative, within sixty (60) days after entering on the administration, shall notify:

    (A) Each legatee or devisee under the will that that person or entity is a beneficiary by sending, by first class mail or personal delivery, a complete copy of the will to those beneficiaries sharing in the residue of the estate, and by sending a copy of the paragraph or paragraphs of the will containing the bequests to those beneficiaries only receiving bequests; and

    (B) Each residuary distributee of an intestate deceased person by sending that person a copy of the letters of administration.

    (2) If the residue or a portion thereof is distributable to a trustee for the benefit of others, a complete copy of the will shall be sent to the trustee who shall have the obligation under title 35 to send copies of the will to the trust beneficiaries.

    (3) Within the sixty-day period, the personal representative shall also execute and file with the clerk of the court an affidavit that the required copies have been mailed or delivered to the beneficiaries or distributees, and an explanation of efforts to identify and locate beneficiaries or distributees, if any, to whom copies have not yet been sent.

    (4) The personal representative shall not be required to comply with the requirements of subdivisions (b)(1) and (b)(3) if:

    (A) The personal representative and the sole beneficiary of the estate are the same person; or

    (B) The decedent's will was admitted to probate in solemn form....
  5. #5
    David S is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by anteater View Post
    "Name on it" is not a legal term. Any response here about what is going on (or should go on) would be sheer speculation.
    She was left as beneficiary on this one investment.
    I have found they are trying to put it in my fathers name but there is nothing stating that it should go to him, only his word and the fact that everything else from the bank had his name on it.
    My thought is without a clear paper trail stating that he should be sole beneficiary it should go to the estate?

    Thank YOU for taking the time to answer my questions!
  6. #6
    anteater is offline Senior Member
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    She's alive. She's the beneficiary. I hope that she has retained an attorney.
  7. #7
    latigo is offline Senior Member
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    Rather than groping aimlessly around in the Internet, you need to spend some money with an expensive estate attorney!

    Otherwise you could come out on the short end of the distribution. For example your father and the estate attorney could enter into some sort of unfavorable compromise with grandpa’s ex wife. And a deal could be buttoned up and sealed before you were made aware.

    And PLEASE ignore the guesswork that because “her name is on the investment”, that she succeeds to it as a non-testamentary transfer. There must be language clearly expressing that that was the intent at the time the account was created. More reason for engaging separate counsel.

    All of this suspected collusion seems to be pure speculation perhaps kindled in part by what I see as impatience to spend your anticipated inheritance. Probating an estate takes time!

    If you want to get this sorted through and kept abreast of developments during the course of the administration so that you are given notice and an opportunity to intervene and be heard when your interests seem threatened. THEN HIRE THE ATTORNEY!

    You are NOT going to do it effectively without being represented. Believe me!

    Sax
  8. #8
    anteater is offline Senior Member
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    ....you need to spend some money with an expensive estate attorney!
    You mean that a cheap one won't do?
  9. #9
    David S is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by latigo View Post
    Rather than groping aimlessly around in the Internet, you need to spend some money with an expensive estate attorney!

    Otherwise you could come out on the short end of the distribution. For example your father and the estate attorney could enter into some sort of unfavorable compromise with grandpa’s ex wife. And a deal could be buttoned up and sealed before you were made aware.

    And PLEASE ignore the guesswork that because “her name is on the investment”, that she succeeds to it as a non-testamentary transfer. There must be language clearly expressing that that was the intent at the time the account was created. More reason for engaging separate counsel.

    All of this suspected collusion seems to be pure speculation perhaps kindled in part by what I see as impatience to spend your anticipated inheritance. Probating an estate takes time!

    If you want to get this sorted through and kept abreast of developments during the course of the administration so that you are given notice and an opportunity to intervene and be heard when your interests seem threatened. THEN HIRE THE ATTORNEY!

    You are NOT going to do it effectively without being represented. Believe me!

    Sax
    Sax it is far from speculation, I know that any good attorney does not take 3 weeks to answers questions and then he does not answer them only gives the promise to answer them in the future.
    He said he would keep us all apprised as to what was happening and that went as far as the paper it was written on.

    As far as my impatience to spend that is the farthest from the truth if you knew me.
    I am human and want it settled but my brother and sister are far more needing than I am when it comes to the money.

    I just want to feel as my best interest are being handled and when this attorney was hired he made me feel that he would be watching out for all of us and now he is not.

    I have found that they are removing her as beneficiary and putting my dads name as sole beneficiary and the bank is going to settle with her and her attorney because them not removing her name was an oversight on their part.

    The problem is he has nothing in writing saying that he should be the sole beneficiary only the fact that he is on 2 other things at that bank.
    I have told the attorney my feelings on the mater this and the fact I feel it should go to the estate but he refuses to answer questions about anything.

    I suppose I either drop it and trust my dad does the right thing or get an attorney?

    One thing you guys did help with is the statute anteater posted.
    I will be forwarding this to the attorney and asking him why he has not followed it as 60 days are up on Thursday and he said in his last letter we would hear from him in the following weeks and then he still may not have that information.
    Any advice on how to present this to him?

    Thank You Again!
  10. #10
    anteater is offline Senior Member
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    What the attorney for the estate may have said is nice, warm, and fuzzy. But, at the end of the day, the attorney represents the estate's personal representative and the personal representative calls the shots. You'll notice that TN 30-2-301 says, "The personal representative... shall..."

    I have found that they are removing her as beneficiary and putting my dads name as sole beneficiary and the bank is going to settle with her and her attorney because them not removing her name was an oversight on their part.
    More than anything, this is out of curiosity since one would have to be knowledgeable on TN law to determine the resolution. But...

    Step grandmother and grandfather were divorced? Grandfather submitted beneficiary designation change requests for various accounts? There was an account where the institution received a legitimate change request from grandfather, but failed to act upon it? Is that how it played out?

    By the way, earlier you stated:
    Local probate says 4 months so I am taking it as though it is basically half way through.
    Four months may be the time limit for creditors to make claims against the estate in TN - I did not look that up. That does not mean that probate is concluded in four months. Four months would be "speed of light" for all but the most simple of probate cases.
    Last edited by anteater; 05-25-2009 at 11:48 AM.
  11. #11
    David S is offline Junior Member
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    More than anything, this is out of curiosity since one would have to be knowledgeable on TN law to determine the resolution. But...

    Step grandmother and grandfather were divorced? Grandfather submitted beneficiary designation change requests for various accounts? There was an account where the institution received a legitimate change request from grandfather, but failed to act upon it? Is that how it played out?


    Correct somewhat but to my knowledge there is no paperwork on this account only the fact they he had them do the other accounts and the will states clearly she gets nothing. They are saying that he told them to change all the accounts and the bank told him yes they are all done but in fact they missed one. The bank is admitting some error and that is why they are paying her. But without a signed beneficiary name change request where should the money go? I would assume to the estate and my dad and the attorney are saying my dad solely. My father says he wants to get the money to split it 4 ways and leave out the great grand children, that would be OK with me even though my child would loose money but my brother could receive a larger share this way. The problem is that I can not trust that my father will follow though with what he says.


    By the way, earlier you stated:

    Four months may be the time limit for creditors to make claims against the estate in TN - I did not look that up. That does not mean that probate is concluded in four months. Four months would be "speed of light" for all but the most simple of probate cases.[/QUOTE]

    Even though there is no property at all to deal with only 1 or 2 accounts with money and investments? And a clear cut decisive will?
    The attorney said that once four months had passed all the money would go into one account and he and my dad would cut checks and this would take 2 months to complete. My issue is the fact that this would take about 2 hours to complete, 1 week doing it through the mail.
  12. #12
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    Without a signed beneficiary change for the account, ex step-gma should get ALL off the proceeds of the account. If she doesn't, then she should get her own attorney.

    The bank may have some ADDITIONAL responsibility to the estate...
  13. #13
    anteater is offline Senior Member
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    Golly, I want to do business with this bank! Generally, a bank will not admit responsibility for anything if the proper form is not completed absolutely correctly. Here, they seem to be spreading money around very liberally.

    ...and the will states clearly she gets nothing.
    The will is pretty much irrelevant. First, even if the will still included grandfather's ex, Tennessee, like most states (all?), has a "revocation on divorce" statute that would void any devise to the ex. Second, an account's beneficiary designation takes precedence over a will.
  14. #14
    latigo is offline Senior Member
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    David:

    Let me try to describe the difficulties of acting pro se in probate by relating them to a situation somewhat equivalent.

    Say you are showing certain abnormal physical symptoms. You go to a medical journal, Internet or other sources to learn that the condition is symptomatic of a serious illness. Simply knowing what the symptoms could indicate medically would not enable you to cure the illness.

    It’s the same here. Any reasonably intelligent person can read Tennessee’s probate code and understand that the PR has to file the inventory within 60 days of appointment; read and understand the PR’s fiduciary relationship with the creditors and heirs, etc., etc.

    But it is one thing for an heir to have reasonable cause to believe that the PR is not performing the office as required and quite another to know what can be legally done about it!

    And knowing what to do about it includes FIRST understanding the procedure for properly presenting those issues to the probate court -

    MOREOVER, once in court having already gathered through pre hearing discovery processes the needed relevant and competent supporting evidence - knowing how to present that evidence to the court in admissible, convincing form.

    And you are not going to know any of it if you spend the next ten years trying to learn!

    As in the adage “the best made plans can go awry”, a legal theory that looks good on paper is barely the beginning! More often only, “the beginning of the beginning”.

    It might be well for you to consider that the delay in filing the inventory (provided that requirement was not waived by the will) could be due to knotty legal questions involving the ownership of the “investment”.

    Whether or not the “investment” is to ultimately pass as a non-testamentary transfer, or is declared an asset of the estate, could tie up the administration processes for months if not years!

    Also that what if anything you receive from grandpa’s lifetime efforts is a windfall! You didn’t earn it.

    A wise judge once told me that he thought that inheritance was among the most decadent principles of a society. And the frequent acrimony as evidenced here seems reason enough to agree with him.

    Sax
  15. #15
    Dandy Don is offline Senior Member
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    The money most likely will not be coming to you and the attorney doesn't want to upset you by telling you that. It goes to step-grandma because designated beneficiaries override what is in the will, but whoever drafted the will may not have known that. It's a mistake that happens all of the time. If you wanted a definitive ruling about who the asset belongs to, you should have hired your own attorney OR the other attorney should have been honest and upfront with you from the beginning instead of trying to placate you.

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