It’s not that uncommon for a close family member to be named as the executor of a parent’s will. Let’s say that rather than your brother, it’s your stepsister who is the executor of your father’s estate.
This person has failed to provide any documentation about where Dad’s assets and money have gone.
Add to this the fact that sis has asked all of the siblings to forfeit their life insurance proceeds to her to pay for Dad’s funeral—a funeral that no one can attend because of the coronavirus.
What can the siblings do about the actions of their stepsister as executor of their father’s will? Start by knowing this:
- Beneficiaries of an estate are entitled to an accounting and should demand one in writing.
- The beneficiaries could also ask to review the bank statements of the estate that show all transactions, if they are unable to get an accounting from the executor.
- There is absolutely no requirement that a named beneficiary of a life insurance policy must hand over their pay-out to pay for the decedent’s funeral or estate debts—unless there was some sort of agreement to do this.
- In most states, the appointed executor is obligated to account in detail to all estate beneficiaries what she has done.
A recent nj.com article asks “Do we have to pay for a funeral with life insurance proceeds?” According to the article, it’s becoming more frequent that estate beneficiaries are hiring their own attorneys to make certain the executor administers the estate properly.
Hiring a private estate planning attorney is especially common when step-siblings and multiple marriages are involved.
If an executor is not complying with the law and her duties under it, it can be extremely hard for beneficiaries to see results without hiring an attorney who knows how to get this accomplished.
To prevent matters like this from occurring, especially when there is a blended family involved, we recommend establishing a revocable living trust instead of a will. The additional provisions available can address many of these concerns before they occur. In addition, successor trustees and trust protectors can be established to handle these situations should they arise.
Reference: nj.com (June 16, 2020) “Do we have to pay for a funeral with life insurance proceeds?”