It’s not that uncommon for a close family member to be named as the executor or personal representative 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. What about funeral costs?
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? Probate requires a number of protocols be followed and many people are unaware of what needs to happen, or worse, they just disregard their fiduciary duty.
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 probate attorney is especially common when stepsiblings and multiple marriages are involved.
In most states, the appointed executor is obligated to account in detail to all estate beneficiaries what she has done.
In addition, there’s 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.
Beneficiaries of a probate estate are entitled to an accounting and should demand one in writing if they haven’t received and there are concerns about administration of the estate being probated.
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.
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 a probate attorney or estate planning attorney who knows how to get this accomplished.
Reference: nj.com (June 16, 2020) “Do we have to pay for a funeral with life insurance proceeds?”