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  1. #1
    co-executor Guest

    Executor stepping down

    What is the name of your state? New York
    After 9 months my co-executor, for personal reasons, decided that he did not want to finish the job with me, (difficulty working together). He was advised that in order to step down he must petition the court, (essentially to get the will changed so that he does not have to serve anymore). Four months ago he began this process. His lawyer sent all beneficiaries a waiver to be signed, agreeing that we would not dispute the request, and basically hold him harmless, etc. (All were signed & returned in December.) Since co-exec began this process he has basically cut off all communication with me and most of the beneficiaries. I do not know the status of our fiduciary relationship anymore. He has basically backed out on his own accord, and doesn't want anything to do with it. Not hearing from him has made my life less stressful, but there are still a few problems. I have been advised by my lawyer that he is technically still a co-executor until probate court says otherwise. And as co-executors we are supposed to act in unison on all decisions. But obviously things would not get done in this case. I have had to act solely, doing what needs to be done for my family. My first question is how can I find out if a petition was actually filed? At this point, I would just like to know so I can perform my duties without fear of problems down the line. My siblings are supportive of me and would also like to know. I asked our estate lawyer to check with the court, but he has not done so yet. Is there any other way to find out where we stand? And do I have any other recourse to cover my liability, and is this a big cause for concern? Thank you for your time.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Check at the county courthouse probate court to see if the petition has been filed. Also find out whether or not the will or the county court rules require an executor's bond to be posted for this particular estate, and if the answer is yes, find out how much the bond would be. The bond will cover your liability if needed in the future.

    Exactly what are the specific "personal reasons" this person is declining the co-executorship? If for example they realize that they are not qualified or don't have the time to devote to the many tasks, then that would be an acceptable reason. However, the fact that they won't communicate any further could mean anything--maybe they truly are tired of being bothered with this estate (and therefore you should stop contacting them, since they have no official connection anymore), or it could be a red flag that perhaps the executor got control of some assets and may have misappropriated or stolen some and hopes that he won't be found out.

    It is not a big cause for concern as of yet, but at some point someone will need to find out from this executor exactly what duties has he already taken care of, if any, and what assets has he been in charge of, and then proceed from there.

    DANDY DON IN OKLAHOMA (tiekh@yahoo.com)

  3. #3
    co-executor Guest
    I will check the courthouse for petition. No bond was required by the county ( I don't think it is required anymore in this state?), and the will specifically states that bond is not required. There is also an exclusionary clause that may help in the end.

    For what it's worth, I think co-exec is simply tired of the process and emotionally spent. We worked fairly close on matters, and I really don't believe that there is any misappropriation, (I will ask for accounting of executor expenses at some point). There was some tension between us, and then he just seemed to be fed up with the process and length of the ordeal.

    Frankly, I don't want to bother him anymore. And I have NOT contacted him in several weeks, (since a check was written out of estate account). But I have been advised by the estate lawyer that he is still technically an executor, and that I still need to treat him as such, (work with him on matters, keep him apprised of my actions). Occasionally forms need to be signed, deeds transferred, etc. I just don't want to be accused of not doing my duty if I don't wish to contact him.

    As you might imagine, this is an awkward position to be in, and I am anxious for this to come to some conclusion--soon! I am busy, (work, personal life, managing estate, etc) and don't have time for the drama and additional headaches this causes. I am also not confident in my lawyers knowledge on probate matters. I don't think I should be held to such a high standard when the other can just shirk and walk away. Thanks again for your advise.

  4. #4
    co-executor Guest
    Just an update on the situation. I checked County Courthouse in May and a petition was filed in February and then sent back in March for lack of information. The County Clerk explained that the Judge needs an explanation and a full accounting. This should not be too difficult since I believe everything has been handled reasonably, and I have kept excellent bookkeeping. In addition, I am glad to assist my co-executor process of resigning. However, I have recently learned that the courts have not received any new petition from my co-executors lawyer and co-exec has not communicated anything to me on the status of the situation. I continue to do my duty almost as if I’m doing it alone, (not a big change from before), except that my co-executor is being a nuisance interfering with business whenever he sees fit. Without any communication from him we’re obviously not coordinating dealings with professionals. There is duplication of effort, waste of estate assets and bottom line, problems. The estate lawyer does not want to get in the middle because he claims that he is here to represent both of us, but not one against the other. This disturbs me because in my opinion this is a serious estate matter that needs immediate attention. Some of the beneficiaries are concerned that my co-executor is procrastinating until we finish up so that he can charge an executor fee. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, but in this case the executor is not only an equal beneficiary, but also received an additional 25k in joint tenant assets and it seems inappropriate considering the circumstances, (that he has been more trouble than help). I also received some assets and do not plan to take the fee, even though I have done most all of the work. The main issue at this point is just having the ability to do what needs to be done without disruptions by this resentful co-executor. I am wondering if this person has changed his mind because of the costs of the hearing, etc. Any advise would be appreciated. I just want to finish up my parents business as I believe they would have wanted it to finish. Please advise on any recourse.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Doesn't look as if there is much of anything you can do until this matter is settled in the court and the other co-executor receives official notice from the court that he is no longer officially executor. And find out now whether or not he is going to be able to collect a fee--seems like he should be unable to if he is no longer officially the executor.

  6. #6
    co-executor Guest
    Thanks for the reply. I’m sorry, I should have been more specific. The initial petition was simply sent back with the court fee check. I read the Judge’s letter and I did not see anything like an order to re-submit. The letter simply explains that he could not make a decision based on the information provided. I would think by now, after two months have passed, that if my co-executor intended to resign he would have re-submitted the petition by now with the appropriate information. It seems like there is nothing in process. My concern is that he has changed his mind about resigning. So officially he is still an executor. Could he just let this slide for the next 6 months, not assist me, disrupt my efforts and then collect a fee? Or on the contrary, could he be held in contempt if he does not re-submit the petition with the appropriate information?

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