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Execuror not fulfulling duties? Do I have rights?

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My father passed away last November. When my mother passed away two years ago, my father fully purchased a 'new' house and my sister moved in to take care of him. She has the executor rights to his estate and also has power of attorney as my father was entering the intermediate stages of Alzheimers. Unfortunatelly, at the time that she moved in with my dad, my mother had just passed and things were hectic, we never made arrangements for her to be compensated for her actual work and physical and emotional time involved. The subject was never discussed until after my fathers passing, but there was always a silent assumption on both of our parts that she very much deserves to be, as she took excellent physical care of my father. I am very grateful that she could be there for him fulltime as I am a self-employed single parent (no sick leave offered) and a state away and could not be there all of the time. I'm aware that my parents trust divides everything equally. The house never made it into the trust and is set to go thru probate court in a few weeks. My father had a good career, made good investments during his life and had a substantial retirement income until he passed. So we both figured that we would work out some type of compensation for my sister when things were to be split up.
A year before my father had bought the house and my sister moved in, he and my mother had rented an unfurnished apartment in an assisted living complex. They completely furnished the apartment with new furniture. After my mother passed and the new house was purchased, all of the new furniture was moved there and more new furniture was purchased and also, alot of little things one would need when moving into a new house. During the time that my father was alive and until his taxes were taken care of in April, all of my sisters living expenses were covered and she did not have to pay rent.
When my father passed, the subject of compensation finally verbally arose. Due to the situation of the new house with purchases being made, her living there and planning on staying there and keeping the furniture, I asked her to see financial records for the two year period that she lived with him to see what exactly she or he had purchased. There were things done to the house after it was purchased and they moved in. Such as landscaping, and timed sprinkler system installed, security system, sattelite tv. Also, about a year ago, she traded his truck and her car in (both for $1,500) on a brand new car costing $25,000 and paid the remainder with his funds. My father couldn't drive his truck anymore due to his Alzheimers and her car was a sport model that was difficult for him to get in and out of, so a different car was a good thing. But how she went about doing it has made me somewhat suspisious of her financial handling of his affairs. My father had once previously thought about selling the truck a few years back and had asked me to research it's value, which was worth about $5,000 at the time. She didn't tell me about any of it until after the purchase and the new car was sitting in the drivway. It leaves me to wonder if she only told me because a new car would be right in my face when I came to the house. It also leaves me to wonder about un-noticable things that she may have done that would never come to my attention unless I look for them.
When we get this worked out we've pretty much agreed that she will end up a good part of the house being part of her compensation, but can't come to any actual conclusion until there are actual figures on what she spent on herself, if any. I would like to see and have asked for some financial documents to sort things out and to figure her compensation over and above her room and board and what she spent on herself, if anything. In November after my father passed, I asked her to supply financial documents and a list of the furniture in the house that belonged to him. At Christmas I asked her again and about a month ago, again. I haven't recieved a thing from her, not even a copy of the trust or the assesed value of the house. Every conversation that I have had with her since my fathers death, I've had to initiate. She is the executor with power of attorney and I am only the benefeciary, she still has control of my fathers funds, lives in the house and I have been told nothing, she just say's she hasn't got around to it. There is a lawyer involved that is only handling the probate on the house and I did recieved a document from him stating concerning the probate court date. Doesn't my sister have certian executors duties to fulfill and give me information? Do I even have a right to ask for information?Isn't there some kind of time limit she has to meet? I'm not sure of the reason why she isn't givin me any information. I have made reservations to fly to see her in a week, this is all new to me, any information you can offer will be greatly appreciated. State of California.




MAY 19, 2001


Your sister's (the executor's) feelings may be hurt because she may think that the fact you are asking for financial information means that you don't trust her and that somehow you may not fully appreciate the work she did as caretaker (which is a very difficult job).

She is also grieving, and may have to prepare a furniture inventory for the estate, but is not required by law to furnish that information to anyone else (although it would have been smart of her to give the list to you if you asked for it).

It is a little bit difficult to ask someone to recall or reconstruct financial transactions that have happened within the past year. The information you are asking for is reasonable and logical, but it makes you look a little bit like a "nitpicker". If you need more information about the estate expenses, you can look at the probate file after the estate has closed.

Stop asking for this information! Follow your first impulse to be generous and go ahead and compensate your sister without any further mention of what she spent on herself. She deserves it for the care she gave your father. Try to keep the probate process as simple and as hassle-free as possible, and this will help to keep peace in the family and will benefit everyone.


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