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Defense of Executors Accused of Taking Advantage of an Estate

Beneficiaries wrongly accuse executors of doing all kinds of things. Executors are most often accused of stealing from the estate, inflating expenses and self-dealing. Unfortunately for an estate, when an executor is accused of stealing, they have to present an accounting to the court.

A New York estate accounting is a tightly regulated format, having the executor list every asset they received from the estate, every expense down to the penny with the exact date, income of the estate and supporting documentation. What usually happens next is the estate attorney for the beneficiaries presents demands for documents to support the accounting, with the the estate executor than having to provide supporting documentation for each one of the accounting items. Estate accountings and the supporting documentation can run for tens, hundreds, or thousands of pages. Estate attorney for the beneficiaries would also present follow-up written questions about the accounting (called “Interrogatories”), and take examination under oath from the executor and other relevant parties (called “Examination Before Trial” or “Depositions”).

New York estate accountings are not cheap, because an air-tight accounting cannot be prepared without the assistance of a very experienced New York estate attorney and a forensic accountant who has experience with estate accountings. Because the estate has to pay for all of that, the result is less money to distribute to the beneficiaries. Beneficiaries are of course not happy about this added expense (which they themselves have caused), and now accuse the executors of inflating the attorneys’ fees and pay their attorney to challenge those fees (a situation that I like to call “fighting fire with fire”).

After the accounting and all the supporting documentation and information are presented, it is up to the parties to determine if they wish to proceed to trial. Many times the accounting plainly demonstrates that all of the assets of the estates are there and all expenses are proper. If there are irregularities, they are mostly small. Sometimes beneficiaries insist that executors have taken advantage of the estate and a trial follows, to which we provide a vigorous defense.

If you are an executor who is accused of taking advantage of an estate, speak with New York estate executor defense attorney Albert Goodwin. Call today, 718-509-9774.