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Cousin Stealing from an Estate: What You Can Do About It

Cousin stealing from an estate
When your cousin is stealing from an estate, it’s usually because the temptation is simply too hard to resist. It comes down to greed. People can come up with all sorts of elaborate excuses for the theft, and then use a number of schemes to cover up what they did. When cousins have a strained relationship or when they were geographically separated for a long time, they will sometimes deny the other cousins their share of the inheritance.

What are the red flags that your cousin is stealing from an estate?

Do you see a sudden increase in your cousin’s spending? Is your cousin buying nicer clothing? Bought or leased a new car? Bough a new house or is renovating their house? Sending their kids to an expensive school? While those things don’t prove that your cousin is stealing from the estate, they could be red flags.

What can we do about the theft?

The simple answer is, we try to get the money back. Where an executor refuses to return the money, we sue the executor and execute his property in favor of the estate. There are a number of remedies available to force your cousin to return the money.

Accounting. The standard process in the Surrogate’s Court is to compel your cousin to provide a formal accounting. Once your Cousin provides the accounting, the beneficiary has a chance to object to the accounting. If the court finds that your Cousin stole from the estate, the court will surcharge your cousin. If your Cousin is also a beneficiary, the court will deduct the money from your Cousin’s share. If your Cousin is not a beneficiary, the court can surcharge him with the money he stole.

Turnover Proceeding. If your cousin stole property as opposed to money, the beneficiary’s estate lawyer can bring a proceeding for turnover of the property.

Bonding. Sometimes there is a bond on a cousin who is an executor. A bond is a kind of insurance against executor theft. If you are lucky enough that there is a bond, or your estate lawyer was experienced enough to apply for a bond, then you can make a claim against the bonding company if your cousin is found to steal money or property but the money is impossible to recover from your cousin.

But how about if your cousin is also a beneficiary? Don’t some of the money in the estate also belong to him? For example, a lady left her inheritance to her four children. Can the executor-cousin steal from the estate and say that he is just withdrawing his own cash? The answer to that is absolutely not. Even though your cousin is one of the beneficiaries of the estate account, at the end of the day the is not his. The estate belongs to all the beneficiaries. So if your cousin withdraws cash from the estate account, he is considered by the law to be taking everyone’s money, not just his own. As an example, if he withdraws four thousand dollars in cash, he is not considered to be taking four thousand dollars of his own cash from the estate account. Rather, he is considered to be stealing a thousand dollars from each of his cousins. If he withdraws a penny, most of that penny belongs to the other beneficiaries.

What are the potential penalties for your cousin?

What can happen if your cousin is an executor and neglects good advice and steals from the estate? Nothing good. Your cousin can be removed from being executor can be by the judge on the case. The court will force your cousin to return the money. The court might order your cousin to pay for his own attorneys’ fees as opposed to using estate funds to pay for his attorney’s fees. The judge may even order your cousin to pay the wronged cousin’s attorneys’ fees. What is scarier is that if your cousin is an executor, they could be criminally prosecuted for stealing. That’s right, a criminal prosecution even if the executor is one of the beneficiaries of the estate and even if the amount he took is less than his stake in the estate account. The Surrogate’s Court judge can refer the case to the District Attorney’s office, which has the power to prosecute the case in criminal court.

Although we talk about a cousin who is an executor, the same rules apply to an administrator and a trustee, as well as a preliminary executor, administrator d.b.n., administrator c.t.a.d.b.n., administrator c.t.a., ancillary executor, ancillary administrator, and ancillary administrator c.t.a. [1]

Above, we’ve referred to the executor as a manager. The legal term for someone managing money, including an executor is “fiduciary.” [2] New York’s Estates, Powers and Trusts Law governs the conduct of an estate fiduciary, as well as a trustee and an agent under a Power of Attorney.

New York Consolidated Laws, Estates, Powers and Trusts Law – EPT § 11-1.6 states that “Every fiduciary shall keep property received as fiduciary separate from his individual property.  He shall not invest or deposit such property with any corporation or other person doing business under the banking law, or with any other person or institution, in his own name, but all transactions by him affecting such property shall be in his name as fiduciary.” [3]This includes taking cash from an estate account.

New York’s Penal Law (the Criminal Law) states that “A person steals property and commits larceny when, with intent to deprive another of property or to appropriate the same to himself or to a third person, he wrongfully takes, obtains or withholds such property from an owner thereof.” [4]

The estate is the owner of the funds. By stealing from the estate account, a cousin who is an executor commits larceny.

New York Penal Law continues to say that “Larceny includes a wrongful taking, obtaining or withholding of another’s property, with the intent prescribed in subdivision one of this section, committed … by conduct heretofore defined or known as common law larceny by trespassory taking, common-law larceny by trick, embezzlement, or obtaining property by false pretenses.” [5]

To sum up, cousins who are executors should keep estate funds where they belong-in the estate account. Whenever they receive any funds relating to the estate in any way, those funds should be deposited into the estate and not withdrawn without either signed consent from each and every beneficiary or an order of the court authorizing your cousin to disburse the funds.

Whether you are a beneficiary who thinks that your cousin is stealing from the estate account, or if you are an executor and you feel that your cousin is falsely accusing you of stealing from the estate account, you can speak with New York estate attorney Albert Goodwin, Esq. He can be reached at 718-509-9774 or (718) 509-9774.

[1] NY EPTL § 11-1.1

[2] NY EPTL § 11-1.1

[3] NY EPTL § 11-1.6

[4] NY PEN § 155.05

[5] NY PEN § 155.05

Sister Stealing from an Estate. How Can I Get the Money Back?

sister stealing from an estate
When your sister is stealing from an estate, it’s usually because the temptation is simply too hard to resist. It comes down to greed. People can come up with all sorts of elaborate excuses for the theft, and then use a number of schemes to cover up what they did. When siblings have a strained relationship or when they were geographically separated for a long time, they will sometimes deny the other siblings their share of the inheritance.

If your sister is stealing from an estate, there’s a lot you can do. You have legal options available and an estate lawyer will likely be able to get the money and property back for you.

You can try to recover stolen inheritance by requesting your sister to restore or return it back to the estate.

This may or may not work, but you can always just ask your sister to return the money or property. It could be that her plan was to only take the property if she could get away with it. Now that he is discovered, she may decide to cut her losses and not have to deal with a civil lawsuit or even criminal prosecution, and she might just return the money or property in question.

As a matter of fact, you can put this article on pause and try to get in touch with her right now.

If that worked, great, we’re done here.

If that did not work, you can keep on reading. Your next step would probably be to sue your sister in court. If you need an attorney to recover stolen inheritance, you can send us an email to attorneyalbertgoodwin@gmail.com.

Once you get an attorney, they will ask you about the circumstances of the theft. Eventually, your attorney will put all of those circumstances in writing and will submit the writing to the court in a form of a petition or complaint.

What are the red flags that your sister is stealing from an estate?

Do you see a sudden increase in your sister’s spending? Is your sister buying nicer clothing? Bought or leased a new car? Bough a new house or is renovating their house? Sending their kids to an expensive school? While those things don’t prove that your sister is stealing from the estate, they could be red flags.

What can we do about the theft?

The simple answer is, we try to get the money back. Where the sister refuses to return the money, we sue her and execute her property in favor of the estate. There are a number of remedies available to force your sister to return the money.

Accounting. The standard process in the Surrogate’s Court is to compel your sister to provide a formal accounting. Once your sister provides the accounting, the beneficiary has a chance to object to the accounting. If the court finds that your sister stole from the estate, the court will surcharge your sister. If your sister is also a beneficiary, the court will deduct the money from your sister’s share. If your sister is not a beneficiary, the court can surcharge herwith the money she stole.

Turnover Proceeding. If your sister stole property as opposed to money, the beneficiary’s estate lawyer can bring a proceeding for turnover of the property.

Bonding. Sometimes there is a bond on a sister who is an executor. A bond is a kind of insurance against executor theft. If you are lucky enough that there is a bond, or your estate lawyer was experienced enough to apply for a bond, then you can make a claim against the bonding company if your sister is found to steal money or property but the money is impossible to recover from your sister.

But how about if your sister is also a beneficiary? Don’t some of the money in the estate also belong to him? For example, a lady left her inheritance to her four children. Can the executor-sister steal from the estate and say that she is just withdrawing her own cash? The answer to that is absolutely not. Even though your sister is one of the beneficiaries of the estate account, at the end of the day the is not his. The estate belongs to all the beneficiaries. So if your sister withdraws cash from the estate account, she is considered by the law to be taking everyone’s money, not just her own. As an example, if she withdraws four thousand dollars in cash, she is not considered to be taking four thousand dollars of her own cash from the estate account. Rather, she is considered to be stealing a thousand dollars from each of her siblings. If she withdraws a penny, most of that penny belongs to the other beneficiaries.

What are the potential penalties for your sister?

What can happen if your sister is an executor and neglects good advice and steals from the estate? Nothing good. Your sister can be removed from being executor can be by the judge on the case. The court will force your sister to return the money. The court might order your sister to pay for her own attorneys’ fees as opposed to using estate funds to pay for her attorney’s fees. The judge may even order your sister to pay the wronged sister’s attorneys’ fees. What is scarier is that if your sister is an executor, they could be criminally prosecuted for stealing. That’s right, a criminal prosecution even if the executor is one of the beneficiaries of the estate and even if the amount she took is less than her stake in the estate account. The Surrogate’s Court judge can refer the case to the District Attorney’s office, which has the power to prosecute the case in criminal court.

Although we talk about a sister who is an executor, the same rules apply to an administrator and a trustee, as well as a preliminary executor, administrator d.b.n., administrator c.t.a.d.b.n., administrator c.t.a., ancillary executor, ancillary administrator, and ancillary administrator c.t.a. [1]

Above, we’ve referred to the executor as a manager. The legal term for someone managing money, including an executor is “fiduciary.” [2] New York’s Estates, Powers and Trusts Law governs the conduct of an estate fiduciary, as well as a trustee and an agent under a Power of Attorney.

New York Consolidated Laws, Estates, Powers and Trusts Law – EPT § 11-1.6 states that “Every fiduciary shall keep property received as fiduciary separate from her individual property.  He shall not invest or deposit such property with any corporation or other person doing business under the banking law, or with any other person or institution, in her own name, but all transactions by him affecting such property shall be in her name as fiduciary.” [3]This includes taking cash from an estate account.

New York’s Penal Law (the Criminal Law) states that “A person steals property and commits larceny when, with intent to deprive another of property or to appropriate the same to himself or to a third person, he wrongfully takes, obtains or withholds such property from an owner thereof.” [4]

The estate is the owner of the funds. By stealing from the estate account, a sister who is an executor commits larceny.

New York Penal Law continues to say that “Larceny includes a wrongful taking, obtaining or withholding of another’s property, with the intent prescribed in subdivision one of this section, committed … by conduct heretofore defined or known as common law larceny by trespassory taking, common-law larceny by trick, embezzlement, or obtaining property by false pretenses.” [5]

To sum up, sisters who are executors should keep estate funds where they belong-in the estate account. Whenever they receive any funds relating to the estate in any way, those funds should be deposited into the estate and not withdrawn without either signed consent from each and every beneficiary or an order of the court authorizing your sister to disburse the funds.

Whether you are a beneficiary who thinks that your sister is stealing from the estate account, or if you are an executor and you feel that your sister is falsely accusing you of stealing from the estate account, you can speak with New York estate attorney Albert Goodwin, Esq. He can be reached at 718-509-9774 or (718) 509-9774.

[1] NY EPTL § 11-1.1

[2] NY EPTL § 11-1.1

[3] NY EPTL § 11-1.6

[4] NY PEN § 155.05

[5] NY PEN § 155.05

Brother Stealing from an Estate. How Can I Get the Money Back?

brother stealing from an estate

When your brother is stealing from an estate, it’s usually because the temptation is simply too hard to resist. It comes down to greed. People can come up with all sorts of elaborate excuses for the theft, and then use a number of schemes to cover up what they did. When siblings have a strained relationship or when they were geographically separated for a long time, they will sometimes deny the other siblings their share of the inheritance.

If your brother is stealing from an estate, there’s a lot you can do. You have legal options available and an estate lawyer will likely be able to get the money and property back for you.

You can try to recover stolen inheritance by requesting your brother to restore or return it back to the estate.

This may or may not work, but you can always just ask your brother to return the money or property. It could be that his plan was to only take the property if he could get away with it. Now that he is discovered, he may decide to cut his losses and not have to deal with a civil lawsuit or even criminal prosecution, and he might just return the money or property in question.

As a matter of fact, you can put this article on pause and try to get in touch with your brother right now.

If that worked, great, we’re done here.

If that did not work, you can keep on reading. Your next step would probably be to sue your brother in court. If you need an attorney to recover stolen inheritance, you can send us an email to attorneyalbertgoodwin@gmail.com.

Once you get an attorney, they will ask you about the circumstances of the theft. Eventually, your attorney will put all of those circumstances in writing and will submit the writing to the court in a form of a petition or complaint.

What are the red flags that your brother is stealing from an estate?

Do you see a sudden increase in your brother’s spending? Is your brother buying nicer clothing? Bought or leased a new car? Bough a new house or is renovating their house? Sending their kids to an expensive school? While those things don’t prove that your brother is stealing from the estate, they could be red flags.

What can we do about the theft?

The simple answer is, we try to get the money back. Where an executor refuses to return the money, we sue the executor and execute his property in favor of the estate. There are a number of remedies available to force your brother to return the money.

Accounting. The standard process in the Surrogate’s Court is to compel your brother to provide a formal accounting. Once your brother provides the accounting, the beneficiary has a chance to object to the accounting. If the court finds that your brother stole from the estate, the court will surcharge your brother. If your brother is also a beneficiary, the court will deduct the money from your brother’s share. If your brother is not a beneficiary, the court can surcharge him with the money he stole.

Turnover Proceeding. If your brother stole property as opposed to money, the beneficiary’s estate lawyer can bring a proceeding for turnover of the property.

Bonding. Sometimes there is a bond on a brother who is an executor. A bond is a kind of insurance against executor theft. If you are lucky enough that there is a bond, or your estate lawyer was experienced enough to apply for a bond, then you can make a claim against the bonding company if your brother is found to steal money or property but the money is impossible to recover from your brother.

But how about if your brother is also a beneficiary? Don’t some of the money in the estate also belong to him? For example, a lady left her inheritance to her four children. Can the executor-brother steal from the estate and say that he is just withdrawing his own cash? The answer to that is absolutely not. Even though your brother is one of the beneficiaries of the estate account, at the end of the day the is not his. The estate belongs to all the beneficiaries. So if your brother withdraws cash from the estate account, he is considered by the law to be taking everyone’s money, not just his own. As an example, if he withdraws four thousand dollars in cash, he is not considered to be taking four thousand dollars of his own cash from the estate account. Rather, he is considered to be stealing a thousand dollars from each of his brothers. If he withdraws a penny, most of that penny belongs to the other beneficiaries.

What are the potential penalties for your brother?

What can happen if your brother is an executor and neglects good advice and steals from the estate? Nothing good. Your brother can be removed from being executor can be by the judge on the case. The court will force your brother to return the money. The court might order your brother to pay for his own attorneys’ fees as opposed to using estate funds to pay for his attorney’s fees. The judge may even order your brother to pay the wronged brother’s attorneys’ fees. What is scarier is that if your brother is an executor, they could be criminally prosecuted for stealing. That’s right, a criminal prosecution even if the executor is one of the beneficiaries of the estate and even if the amount he took is less than his stake in the estate account. The Surrogate’s Court judge can refer the case to the District Attorney’s office, which has the power to prosecute the case in criminal court.

Although we talk about a brother who is an executor, the same rules apply to an administrator and a trustee, as well as a preliminary executor, administrator d.b.n., administrator c.t.a.d.b.n., administrator c.t.a., ancillary executor, ancillary administrator, and ancillary administrator c.t.a. [1]

Above, we’ve referred to the executor as a manager. The legal term for someone managing money, including an executor is “fiduciary.” [2] New York’s Estates, Powers and Trusts Law governs the conduct of an estate fiduciary, as well as a trustee and an agent under a Power of Attorney.

New York Consolidated Laws, Estates, Powers and Trusts Law – EPT § 11-1.6 states that “Every fiduciary shall keep property received as fiduciary separate from his individual property.  He shall not invest or deposit such property with any corporation or other person doing business under the banking law, or with any other person or institution, in his own name, but all transactions by him affecting such property shall be in his name as fiduciary.” [3]This includes taking cash from an estate account.

New York’s Penal Law (the Criminal Law) states that “A person steals property and commits larceny when, with intent to deprive another of property or to appropriate the same to himself or to a third person, he wrongfully takes, obtains or withholds such property from an owner thereof.” [4]

The estate is the owner of the funds. By stealing from the estate account, a brother who is an executor commits larceny.

New York Penal Law continues to say that “Larceny includes a wrongful taking, obtaining or withholding of another’s property, with the intent prescribed in subdivision one of this section, committed … by conduct heretofore defined or known as common law larceny by trespassory taking, common-law larceny by trick, embezzlement, or obtaining property by false pretenses.” [5]

To sum up, brothers who are executors should keep estate funds where they belong-in the estate account. Whenever they receive any funds relating to the estate in any way, those funds should be deposited into the estate and not withdrawn without either signed consent from each and every beneficiary or an order of the court authorizing your brother to disburse the funds.

Whether you are a beneficiary who thinks that your brother is stealing from the estate account, or if you are an executor and you feel that your brother is falsely accusing you of stealing from the estate account, you can speak with New York estate attorney Albert Goodwin, Esq. He can be reached at 718-509-9774 or (718) 509-9774.

[1] NY EPTL § 11-1.1

[2] NY EPTL § 11-1.1

[3] NY EPTL § 11-1.6

[4] NY PEN § 155.05

[5] NY PEN § 155.05

Sibling Stealing from an Estate. How Do I Get the Money Back?

sibling stealing from an estate

If your sibling is stealing from an estate, there’s a lot you can do. You have legal options available and an estate lawyer will likely be able to get the money and property back for you.

You can try to recover stolen inheritance by requesting your sibling to restore or return it back to the estate.

This may or may not work, but you can always just ask your sibling to return the money or property. It could be that their plan was to only take the property if they could get away with it. Now that they are discovered, they may decide to cut their losses and not have to deal with a civil lawsuit or even criminal prosecution, and they might just return the money or property in question.

As a matter of fact, you can put this article on pause and try to do that right now.

If that worked, great, we’re done here.

If that did not work, you can keep on reading. Your next step would probably be to sue your sibling in court. If you need an attorney to recover stolen inheritance, you can send us an email to attorneyalbertgoodwin@gmail.com.

Once you get an attorney, they will ask you about the circumstances of the theft. Eventually, your attorney will put all of those circumstances in writing and will submit the writing to the court in a form of a petition or complaint.

People get cheated by their sibling all the time, probably because the temptation is simply too hard to resist. It basically comes down to greed. People can come up with all sorts of elaborate excuses for the theft, and then use a number of schemes to cover up what they did. When siblings have a strained relationship or when they were geographically separated for a long time, they will sometimes deny the other siblings their share of the inheritance.

What are the red flags that your sibling is stealing from an estate?

  • Do you see a sudden increase in your sibling’s spending?
  • Is your sibling buying nicer clothing?
  • Bought or leased a new car?
  • Bought a new house or is renovating their house?
  • Sending their kids to an expensive school?

While those things don’t prove that your sibling is stealing from the estate, they could be red flags.

What can we do about the theft?

The simple answer is, we try to get the money back. Where an executor refuses to return the money, we sue the executor and execute his property in favor of the estate. There are a number of remedies available to force your sibling to return the money.

Accounting. The standard process in the Surrogate’s Court is to compel your sibling to provide a formal accounting. Once your sibling provides the accounting, the beneficiary has a chance to object to the accounting. If the court finds that your sibling stole from the estate, the court will surcharge your sibling. If your sibling is also a beneficiary, the court will deduct the money from your sibling’s share. If your sibling is not a beneficiary, the court can surcharge him with the money he stole.

Turnover Proceeding. If your sibling stole property as opposed to money, the beneficiary’s estate lawyer can bring a proceeding for turnover of the property.

Bonding. Sometimes there is a bond on a sibling who is an executor. A bond is a kind of insurance against executor theft. If you are lucky enough that there is a bond, or your estate lawyer was experienced enough to apply for a bond, then you can make a claim against the bonding company if your sibling is found to steal money or property but the money is impossible to recover from your sibling.

But how about if your sibling is also a beneficiary? Don’t some of the money in the estate also belong to him? For example, a lady left her inheritance to her four children. Can the executor-sibling steal from the estate and say that he is just withdrawing his own cash? The answer to that is absolutely not. Even though your sibling is one of the beneficiaries of the estate account, at the end of the day the is not his. The estate belongs to all the beneficiaries. So if your sibling withdraws cash from the estate account, he is considered by the law to be taking everyone’s money, not just his own. As an example, if he withdraws four thousand dollars in cash, he is not considered to be taking four thousand dollars of his own cash from the estate account. Rather, he is considered to be stealing a thousand dollars from each of his siblings. If he withdraws a penny, most of that penny belongs to the other beneficiaries.

What are the potential penalties for your sibling?

What can happen if your sibling is an executor and neglects good advice and steals from the estate? Nothing good. Your sibling can be removed from being executor can be by the judge on the case. The court will force your sibling to return the money. The court might order your sibling to pay for his own attorneys’ fees as opposed to using estate funds to pay for his attorney’s fees. The judge may even order your sibling to pay the wronged sibling’s attorneys’ fees. What is scarier is that if your sibling is an executor, they could be criminally prosecuted for stealing. That’s right, a criminal prosecution even if the executor is one of the beneficiaries of the estate and even if the amount he took is less than his stake in the estate account. The Surrogate’s Court judge can refer the case to the District Attorney’s office, which has the power to prosecute the case in criminal court.

Although we talk about a sibling who is an executor, the same rules apply to an administrator and a trustee, as well as a preliminary executor, administrator d.b.n., administrator c.t.a.d.b.n., administrator c.t.a., ancillary executor, ancillary administrator, and ancillary administrator c.t.a. [1]

Above, we’ve referred to the executor as a manager. The legal term for someone managing money, including an executor is “fiduciary.” [2] New York’s Estates, Powers and Trusts Law governs the conduct of an estate fiduciary, as well as a trustee and an agent under a Power of Attorney.

New York Consolidated Laws, Estates, Powers and Trusts Law – EPT § 11-1.6 states that “Every fiduciary shall keep property received as fiduciary separate from his individual property.  He shall not invest or deposit such property with any corporation or other person doing business under the banking law, or with any other person or institution, in his own name, but all transactions by him affecting such property shall be in his name as fiduciary.” [3]This includes taking cash from an estate account.

New York’s Penal Law (the Criminal Law) states that “A person steals property and commits larceny when, with intent to deprive another of property or to appropriate the same to himself or to a third person, he wrongfully takes, obtains or withholds such property from an owner thereof.” [4]

The estate is the owner of the funds. By stealing from the estate account, a sibling who is an executor commits larceny.

New York Penal Law continues to say that “Larceny includes a wrongful taking, obtaining or withholding of another’s property, with the intent prescribed in subdivision one of this section, committed … by conduct heretofore defined or known as common law larceny by trespassory taking, common-law larceny by trick, embezzlement, or obtaining property by false pretenses.” [5]

To sum up, siblings who are executors should keep estate funds where they belong, in the estate account. Whenever they receive any funds relating to the estate in any way, those funds should be deposited into the estate and not withdrawn without either signed consent from each and every beneficiary or an order of the court authorizing your sibling to disburse the funds.

Whether you are a beneficiary who thinks that your sibling is stealing from the estate account, or if you are an executor and you feel that your sibling is falsely accusing you of stealing from the estate account, we at the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin are here for you. We have offices in New York, NY, Brooklyn, NY and Queens, NY. You can call us at 718-509-9774 or send us an email at attorneyalbertgoodwin@gmail.com.

[1] NY EPTL § 11-1.1

[2] NY EPTL § 11-1.1

[3] NY EPTL § 11-1.6

[4] NY PEN § 155.05

[5] NY PEN § 155.05

How Long Does an Executor Have to Sell a House? How Much Time is Reasonable?

How Long Does an Executor Have to Sell a House

It can take an executor over a year to sell a house. Consider the fact that in order for the executor to sell a house, they have to follow several steps:

  1. Get appointed as the executor
  2. Find a buyer
  3. Get a contract from the buyer
  4. Have an attorney draft the Executor’s Deed
  5. Receive the payment for the house
  6. Sign the Executor’s Deed and have it notarized
  7. Have the buyer file the deed with the city
  8. Deposit the funds into the estate account

Once you are appointed as the executor, you can look for a buyer, with or without a real estate broker. After you find a buyer, you can have your lawyer draft a contract and receive a deposit from the buyer. The lawyer can then draft an Executor’s Deed, which is the document used to sell the house to the buyer.

At the closing, the executor will sign the deed to the house and the buyer will pay for the house. The executor will deposit the money to the estate account. After getting releases from beneficiaries and creditors or a court order authorizing the distribution of funds, the executor will distribute the estate funds to the beneficiaries of the estate.

Some courts, Brooklyn in particular, require that before the executor sells the house, they have the contract approved by the courts. This is done for the executor’s own protection and for the protection of the beneficiaries, as there have been some people targeting estates in Brooklyn where they give some money to the executor up-front in order to get a steal on the house. This approval process may delay the closing date, increasing how long it takes for the executor to sell a house.

Here are some common suggestions that arise from our experience helping executors sell a house in the New York real estate market:

  1. Because the filing of probate is a public record, you will have a lot of people contacting you offering to buy the house for an “all-cash offer.” Those people are targeting estates in order to flip the house. You can hang up on those phone calls.
  2. You can find a good starting price-point for the house by checking a Zillow estimate.
  3. When you tell people you’re an executor selling a house, they will try to use that to get a better deal.
  4. If you need to sell the house fast, consider lowering the price a little, but not too much.
  5. In the New York market, it is usually not a good investment to remodel a house before selling it. If you are planning to use the estate’s assets to fix up the house, then it’s probably a good idea to get written approval from the other beneficiaries first.

As an executor who is selling a house, you want to make sure that you get the best price and not take too long, because that will get the beneficiaries to start asking how long it will take you to sell the house. You will need to get acquainted with the real estate market and make sure that you get the best price for the property. You also need to comply with the restrictions on your letters testamentary and all of the requirements of the applicable estate laws.

If you are a beneficiary who believes that it’s taking the executor too long to sell the house, or if you are an executor who is looking for an estate attorney to help you sell a house, you can call the offices of Albert Goodwin at 718-509-9774.

Nieces and Nephews Inheritance Law in Estate of Aunt or Uncle

Nieces and Nephews Inheritance Law in Estate of Aunt or Uncle

Nieces and nephews inheritance laws endow you with certain rights to your aunt or uncle’s inheritance. However, your rights are of lower priority than those of your aunt or uncle’s more immediate family members. As set forth in the laws of the state of New York, you have no rights to your aunt or uncle’s inheritance if they had a living spouse, descendants or parents at the time of their death. Even if you are the closest living relative, you may also have very limited rights if your aunt or uncle left you out of their will.

If you have questions about nieces and nephews inheritance law, you can send us an email at attorneyalbertgoodwin@gmail.com.

Will I inherit if my aunt or uncle did not have a will? If your aunt or uncle did not have a will, then you will inherit only if you are “the closest living relative” – only if your aunt or uncle died with no living spouse, descendants (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren etc.) and parents.

Do I have to be notified if my aunt or uncle died? If your aunt or uncle had a will, then nieces and nephew inheritance laws state that you will have the right to be notified of the will and the hearing date when the will is presented before the court.

What can I do if I am not named in my aunt or uncle’s will? If you were not named in your aunt or uncle’s will, then you have the right to contest the will. You can win a will contest if you can prove that your aunt or uncle either did not have the mental capacity to make a will, was unduly influenced into making the will or the will was not made correctly.

Will I be in charge of my aunt or uncle’s estate? If you are the closest living relative (your aunt or uncle does not have a living spouse, descendants or parents) or you are named as the executor in your aunt or uncle’s will, then you can be named the executor or administrator of their estate.

Can I inherit from my aunt or uncle if they were not married and the children are not theirs? Children are presumed to be biological children if they were born during the marriage or have your aunt or uncle’s name on their birth certificate. Adopted children of your aunt or uncle are considered their children. Step-children or foster children are not considered their children.

Can I inherit from my aunt or uncle if their marriage was invalid? A legal marriage is assumed to be valid unless you can prove otherwise, even your aunt or uncle was separate from their spouse or was in the process of divorce. But if you can prove to the court that your aunt or uncle’s spouse abandoned them, then you will be able to set aside the spouse’s share and will be able to inherit from your aunt or uncle. To be valid for inheritance purposes, the marriage has to be a legal marriage. Common-law marriage is not valid in New York, but may be valid in a different state.

What should I do if I need an estate and probate lawyer for my aunt or uncle’s estate? You can contact the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin, an attorney familiar with nieces and nephews inheritance laws. We at the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin are here for you. We have offices in New York, NY, Brooklyn, NY and Queens, NY. You can call us at 718-509-9774 or send us an email at attorneyalbertgoodwin@gmail.com.

Inheritance Rights of Nieces and Nephews

Inheritance Rights of Nieces and Nephews

Inheritance rights of nieces and nephews endow you with certain rights to your aunts’s or uncle’s inheritance. However, your rights are of lower priority than those of your aunt or uncle’s more immediate family members. As set forth in the laws of the state of New York, you have no rights to your aunt or uncle’s inheritance if they had a living spouse, descendants or parents at the time of their death. Even if you are the closest living relative, you may also have very limited rights if your aunt or uncle left you out of their will.

If you need a consultation with an attorney regarding inheritance rights of nieces and nephews, you can send us an email at attorneyalbertgoodwin@gmail.com.

Do I have the right to inherit if my aunt or uncle did not have a will? If your aunt or uncle did not have a will, then you will inherit only if you are “the closest living relative” – only if your aunt or uncle died with no living spouse, descendants (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren etc.) and parents.

Do I have the right to be notified if my aunt or uncle died? If your aunt or uncle had a will, then you will have the right to be notified of the will and the hearing date when the will is presented before the court.

What rights do I have if I am not named in my aunt or uncle’s will? If you were not named in your aunt or uncle’s will, then you have the right to contest the will. You can win a will contest if you can prove that your aunt or uncle either did not have the mental capacity to make a will, was unduly influenced into making the will or the will was not made correctly.

Do step-nieces and step-nephews have the right to inherit? Step-nieces and step-nephewes do not have the right to inherit. Only if they were adopted by the aunt and uncle’s aunt or uncle, in which case they would be considered nieces and nephews.

Do all nieces and nephews have the right to inherit equally? All nieces and nephews from the same aunt or uncle have the right inherit equally unless stated otherwise in the will of the aunt or uncle who died, but you can only share the inheritance share of your deceased parent, so you may inherit unequally with your cousins.

Do I have the right to be in charge of my aunt or uncle’s estate? If you are the closest living relative (your aunt or uncle does not have a living spouse, descendants or parents) or you are named as the executor in your aunt or uncle’s will, then you can have the right to be named the executor or administrator of their estate.

Do I have the right to inherit from my aunt or uncle if they were not married and the children are not theirs? Children are presumed to be biological children if they were born during the marriage or have your aunt or uncle’s name on their birth certificate. Adopted children of your aunt or uncle are considered their children. Step-children or foster children are not considered their children.

Do I have the right to inherit from my aunt or uncle if their marriage was invalid? A legal marriage is assumed to be valid unless you can prove otherwise, even your aunt or uncle was separate from their spouse or was in the process of divorce. But if you can prove to the court that your aunt or uncle’s spouse abandoned them, then you will have the right to set aside the spouse’s share and will be able to inherit from your aunt or uncle. To be valid for inheritance purposes, the marriage has to be a legal marriage. Common-law marriage is not valid in New York, but may be valid in a different state.

What should I do if I need an estate and probate lawyer for my aunt or uncle’s estate? You can contact the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin, an attorney familiar with inheritance rights of nieces and nephews, at 718-509-9774 or (718) 509-9774.

Contesting a Transfer at Death. Pro Tips and Winning Strategies.

Contesting a transfer at death

Contesting a transfer at death happens when your loved one transferred their property to someone shortly before they died and you suspect that the transfer was problematic.

When it comes to estate planning, a lifetime transfer is a tool in any New York estate attorney’s arsenal. Usually, with these transfers, a person planning what will happen to their estate can make sure that property goes to his or her beneficiaries without going through the Surrogate’s Court, hope to avoid creditors or possibly plan for future nursing home stays using Medicaid. This can be very useful for someone planning their estate and their beneficiaries. However, lifetime transfers are not always done willingly or by someone with the required mental capacity to make the transfer. Sometimes undue influence is involved with lifetime transfers, and even duress.

Transfers made before death can be subject to some of the most contentious litigation when it comes to estates. This can especially be the case in matters where there are indications that property was transferred at death due to factors such as fraud or duress or where it looks like someone who held a power of attorney may have abused that power. It is unfortunately common that not all gifts are transferred all so innocently.

What You Need to Know When it Comes to Contesting a Transfer at Death

When we contest a transfer at death, we start with a demand for an accounting by the executor of the estate that includes both the property that existed in the estate before death and also the property that was transferred to others in the weeks, months and years before death.

In addition to asking for an accounting, you must understand the issues that arise around the statute of limitations when it comes to contesting transfers at death. While it is possible to contest the transfer at death, there is a limited time to do so, usually just a few years from the transfer, or, in the case of the wrongful use of a power of attorney, six years from the end of that power of attorney. While this does put limitations on the types of gifts that you can contest, the statute of limitations still does allow for a rather long period of time to contest a wrongful transfer at death. Failure to sue during this time could result in you missing out on your rights to even file suit if you feel your loved one’s property was improperly transferred.

A person dies, and it emerges that their house or bank account is not a part of their estate, because it was already transferred to someone before their death. Or, someone was named as a beneficiary on a bank account or a life insurance policy. The one it was transferred to claims that the decedent gave them the asset. The other relatives don’t buy the story, say that the decedent was tricked into transferring the property and wish to contest the transfer at death. To determine who’s right, we need to look into the three possible reasons someone transfers property at death – as a gift, as a “straw-man” to shield from liabilities, and because of being tricked.

Gift? – people do transfer their assets to a favorite relative to exclude all others.

“Straw-Man?” – People can transfer property to others in an attempt to avoid creditors or divorcing spouses, to avoid taxes, or to qualify for Medicaid. When a property is transferred for various avoidance reasons, the person who transfers the property orally tells the one getting the property that they are just a “straw-man,” keeping the property in title but really owning it for the benefit of the person who transferred it. In such cases, the person receiving the property promises the person giving the property to be a proper “straw-man,” to let the person who owned the property benefit from it during their lifetime and to distribute it to the owner’s heirs after the owner’s death.

Or, Fraud, Duress, Undue Influence or Lack of Capacity – People also transfer property without wanting to do so. Some people are so sick that they can be easily convinced to do anything. Some are so dependent on others that they are easily persuaded. Some are just slipped papers and told to sign them without knowing what they are signing. Some are misinformed about family or financial circumstances, made believe certain things that makes them transfer the property to someone they trust.

When a pre-death property transfer is discovered, the person whom the property is transferred to claims that it was a gift, and the people who are left out claim that the recipient is merely a “straw-man”, or that fraud or duress took place.

It is up to the one wishing to undo the transfer to prove why the transfer should be undone. However, if it can be proved that the recipient of the asset was in a position of trust with the one who transferred the asset, the burden of proof can shift towards the recipient.

You must keep in mind that contesting transfers at death is not something that should be taken care of without representation. Proving either incapacity, abuse of a power of attorney or fraud or duress when it comes to transfers of property can be incredibly difficult. Hiring a New York estate attorney to assist you every step of the way in such a matter is necessary to be sure that you have a chance to reverse such a transfer, recapture the property for the estate, and get access to the property that you believe you deserve. An attorney can file a proceeding for discovery of property and a proceeding for turnover of property of the estate. Your case can be even further complicated if you need to contest the will as well, as there is a much stricter time period involved when it comes to contesting a Will than there is for contesting a transfer at death.

If you are involved in contesting a transfer at death of real estate, bank accounts or insurance policies, and wish to speak with an attorney, you can call me at 718-509-9774 or send us an email to attorneyalbertgoodwin@gmail.com.

Define Beneficiary of an Estate: What Is That?

Define Beneficiary of an Estate: What Is That?

A beneficiary of an estate is a person entitled to any part or all of an estate.[1]

What is a beneficiary? That’s a broad term, which combines a legatee and a devisee and sometimes distributee into one. A beneficiary has other connotations as well. In a trust, a beneficiary is someone who receives distributions from the trustee.

Here are the other three definitions you’d need to know to make sense of this:

  • Distributee– a person entitled to take or share in the property of a decedent who died without a will.[2]
  • Legatee– a person designated by a will to receive a transfer of personal property.[3]
  • Devisee– a person designated by a will to receive a transfer of real property.[4]

These three terms apply to a will left by a decedent. These terms apply to those receiving vested property, as well as those who may have a future interest whether or not the future interest ever vests.

Legatee, devisee, distributee, and beneficiary seem like synonyms, but they are not. They have crucial distinctions. A difference in the four terms can mean the difference in

  • whether you are getting valuable property from the estate,
  • whether you have legal ability to contest the will and
  • whether you are entitled to demand an accounting of the estate.

For example, a decedent bequests his house to Bob and his heirs, with the following condition: “as long as Bob is married, and if not to Cathy and her heirs”. Decedent also devises his art collection to Cathy and her heirs. In this example: Bob is a devisee because he received the house. Bob is also a beneficiary because all devisees are beneficiaries. Cathy is a legatee because she received the art collection—a is still single when the decedent died. And Cathy is also a devisee. She stands to inherit the property in case Bob is single; thus, she has what is known as an executory interest in the property. We consider Cathy a devisee even if she never gets the property because Bob stayed single. Consequently, Cathy is also a beneficiary.

New York’s estate law is complicated. The statutory application of estate distribution applies to a singular recipient or a class of types of recipients. Those complications are due to a combination of old common law terminology and modern definitions.

Understandably, this terminology can be hard to parse. It is always best to speak with a New York estate lawyer about your status and potential options. I am a New York estate, guardianship, wills, trust, Medicaid and probate lawyer with over a decade of experience. If you would like to speak to me, you can reach me at 718-509-9774.

[1] SCPA 103(14).

[2] SCPA 103(33) (McKinney 2018).

[3] SCPA 103(8).

[4] SCPA 103(13).

[5] In re Reape, 974 N.Y.S.2d 496 (2013).

Theft from Estate Before Inventory. How Can I Get the Money Back?

theft from estate before inventory

Theft from estate before inventory occurs when someone steals property from the estate and the executor does not report it on the inventory. The thief likes everyone to think that the property is “outside of the estate,” which is not true. The good news is, once you discover the theft, you may be able to get the money or property back.

You can try to recover the stolen inheritance by requesting the alleged thief to restore or return it back to the estate and declare it on the inventory.

This may or may not work, but you can always just ask the person to return the money or property. It could be that their plan was to only take the property and not list it on the inventory if they could get away with it. Now that they are discovered, they may decide to cut their losses and not have to deal with a civil lawsuit or even criminal prosecution, and they might just return the money or property in question and list it on the inventory of the estate.

As a matter of fact, you can put this article on pause and try to do that right now.

If that worked, great, we’re done here.

If that did not work, you can keep on reading. Your next step would probably be to sue them in court. For that, you will likely need an attorney (hint: you can reach our firm at attorneyalbertgoodwin@gmail.com).

Once you get an attorney, they will ask you about the circumstances of the theft. Eventually, your attorney will put all of those circumstances in writing and will submit the writing to the court in a form of a petition or complaint.

In order to recover the stolen inheritance from the thief, you and your attorney would first have to answer a few basic questions, involving who, how, what and when.

Who?

When we hear complaints about theft from estate before inventory, it is usually stolen by someone who was close to the person who died:

  • family member – son, daughter, brother, sister, niece, nephew or cousin
  • friend, possibly someone who only pretended to be a friend
  • caretaker such as a home health aide or nurse
  • financial professional such as an attorney or accountant (this is not common)
  • a random stranger (this is even more uncommon)

Theft from estate before inventory can be committed by an executor, administrator, or a beneficiary, such as a sibling. It can also be committed by someone who is not a family member, or a person completely unrelated to the estate.

How?

Usually, the person attempting theft from estate before inventory would gain the trust of a vulnerable senior and use undue influence, lies, threats, manipulation, isolation, or forgery to obtain gifts or just steal from them.

As such, theft from estate before inventory can happen before or after death. It could be as simple as getting jewelry and other valuable personal property from the belongings of the decedent, or the administrator or executor over-charging the estate for fees or expenses related to administration, to something more complex, such as an adult child who is the primary caregiver of his parent using undue influence to gain control of real property that should have been divided among the parent’s children in equal shares.

What?

If you suspect theft from estate before inventory, immediately conduct your own due diligence and consult with an inheritance recovery attorney. Some places to start the investigation are:

  • Tax records to see whether title to property has changed via deed or sale, and whether any liens have been placed on real property
  • Bank, brokerage, and retirement account statements to see if there have been unusually large withdrawals
  • Changes in beneficiary designations on insurance policies, annuities, brokerage accounts, and retirement accounts, to see if there are recent replacements made
  • Bank accounts to see if another joint account holder has been added
  • Receipts and invoices for legal expenses, notary fees, or other estate planning services
  • Federal and state tax returns to determine if there had been gifts to others
  • Examination of personal property in drawers, closets, and safety deposit boxes to see if jewelry, coins, bonds, cash, and other collectibles are missing.

When?

Inheritance stolen before death. This usually occurs when a caregiver, child, friend, neighbor, new spouse, or advisor use their personal relationship with the person who died to obtain or take money from him, to the detriment of his loved ones.

Inheritance stolen after death. When it is the executor or administrator who is stealing from the estate, an interested person can petition the court to suspend and/or remove the executor or administrator. However, if you want to know how to recover stolen inheritance, you need to be aware of the fact that evidence of fraudulent activity is required. Together with an attorney, there may be a need to hire a forensic accountant to analyze the accounting documents to see if there is evidence of fraud.

Most inheritance theft cases occur before inventory. When someone dies, family members rummage through the belongings of the decedent to get anything of value, even before an executor is appointed to conduct inventory. By the time letters testamentary have been issued, most personal assets, such as expensive jewelry, artwork, antiques, cash hidden in the home, classic cars, stock certificates, and bonds or notes payable to bearer, have already been pillaged. For this reason, the executor may fail to include certain assets in the inventory. If you suspect that a family member has stolen from the decedent’s belongings prior to inventory and want to now how to recover stolen inheritance, it is important to conduct an extensive investigation to obtain evidence prior to filing a suit to recover the missing items. It is also important to use the services of an experienced estate recovery attorney such as our office. You can send me an email at attorneyalbertgoodwin@gmail.com.

Remedies: what you can do to recover stolen inheritance

Ultimately, when deciding whether to file a petition to remedy theft from estate before inventory, you must evaluate the strength of the evidence on hand, the value of the assets, and the time to be wasted and the legal costs spent in recovering it. This will provide you with an informed decision on whether recovering stolen inheritance is worth pursuing or not.

Recover stolen inheritance in civil court

Surcharge. Beneficiaries will ask the court to surcharge the executor who they are claiming took more than they are entitled to. If the executor is one of the beneficiaries, then the court can surcharge the executor’s share of the estate, giving some or all of the executor’s share to the other beneficiaries. Surcharge here means charging the person who stole the money with having to return the money. It’s a legal term, used a little differently than the common way we use the word surcharge.

Turnover. Beneficiaries can bring a proceeding for Discovery and Turnover. If the court grants the turnover, then it will force the executor to return property that was the subject of the theft.

Discharge of executor. If the person caught with theft from the estate is the executor or administrator, the judge of the Surrogate’s Court can discharge them from their position, taking away their power to manage the estate. The judge can discharge and remove the executor “by reason of his having wasted or improperly applied the assets of the estate.”[1] The court can appoint someone else as the executor instead, typically one of the beneficiaries who brought the proceeding to remove the misbehaving executor.

Attorneys’ fees. Executors use estate funds for their defense. If the court finds that the executor improperly took funds from the estate, the court can order the executor to reimburse the estate for their attorneys’ fees. In some rare cases, the court can even order the executor to pay the beneficiaries’ attorneys’ fees.

Waiver of commission. An executor is entitled to a commission for their services. The amount of the commission is about three percent of the value of the estate. As a penalty for theft from the estate, the court can take away the executor’s right to receive the commission.

Recover stolen inheritance through criminal restitution

It is not common for an executor of an estate to be criminally prosecuted, but it does happen. An executor or anyone else improperly taking money from an estate can be subject to criminal prosecution for theft from the estate before inventory, even if they are one of the beneficiaries. Taking more than you are entitled to by law can be interpreted as theft from the other beneficiaries of the estate. Everyone has their side of the story, and it could be that the beneficiaries’ allegations of theft are unfounded. But if the District Attorney’s office decides to bring charges, then the potential penalties can be significant.

The alleged thief’s side of the story. Executors or others who are accused of theft have their own side of the story. They say that they are paying for estate expenses, taking their legal fees, taking their share as a beneficiary, or comingling funds by mistake. They can also say that not including the money or property on the inventory was an oversight. Whether the executor is caught stealing and is now making an excuse or the executor did have a valid reason to transfer estate property to themselves is up to the court to decide, unless the executor makes a plea agreement with the District Attorney’s office.

The Penal Law. The estate is the owner of the property. When an executor is stealing from the estate before inventory, he commits larceny. New York’s Penal Law (the Criminal Law) states that “A person steals property and commits larceny when, with intent to deprive another of property or to appropriate the same to himself or to a third person, he wrongfully takes, obtains or withholds such property from an owner thereof.” [2] New York Penal Law continues to say that “Larceny includes a wrongful taking, obtaining or withholding of another’s property, with the intent prescribed in subdivision one of this section, committed … by conduct heretofore defined or known as common law larceny by trespassory taking, common-law larceny by trick, embezzlement, or obtaining property by false pretenses.” [3]

Sentencing guidelines. New York Penal Law 155 describes the sentencing guidelines for theft from the estate before inventory. The sentence depends on the amount that the executor steals. An executor convicted of larceny can incur a sentence of up to twenty-five years in prison.

Amount Stolen Type of Grand Larceny Section of Penal Code Felony Class Penalty
In excess of $1,000 but not more than $3,000 Fourth Degree PL 155.30(1) Class E Felony up to 4 years in prison
In excess of $3,000 but not greater than $50,000 Third Degree PL 155.35 Class D Felony up to 7 years in prison
In excess of $50,000 but is not more than $1 million Second Degree PL 155.40(1) Class C Felony up to 15 years in prison
In excess of $1 million First Degree PL 155.42 Class B Felony up to 25 years in prison

Restitution. The court can force the executor to return the property to the estate and pay restitution to the beneficiaries.

Although we talk about an executor, the same rules apply to an administrator and a trustee, as well as a preliminary executor, administrator d.b.n., administrator c.t.a.d.b.n., administrator c.t.a., ancillary executor, ancillary administrator, and ancillary administrator c.t.a. [4] who steal from the estate before inventory. Executors are not the only ones who can be accused of stealing from the estate. Anyone who has access to funds of the estate could potentially be a thief, such as the attorney, real esate broker, financial advisor, caretakers and others.

How an executor can avoid being charged with theft

Fill out the inventory correctly. Make sure you fill out the inventory forms correctly, without omitting any property, so that you would not be accused of theft. Have an estate attorney represent you in filling out the estate inventory, so that you are not accused of theft. Do not take more funds than you are entitled to. It can be tempting for an executor to take some extra cookies from the cookie jar. You have access to estate funds and the power to take some funds out. You don’t see anyone looking over your shoulder. But that sense of safety is false. Banks and courts have systems in place to detect fraud. Beneficiaries can get suspicious and hire an estate attorney or report the suspect to the police and hire an estate attorney to get the inheritance that they are entitled to.

Avoid self-dealing. The executor cannot transfer estate property to himself because the property belongs to someone else unless he pays the full price for it. As explained above, doing so can be interpreted as theft and can lead to an array of legal woes. A smart executor would want to avoid transferring estate assets to himself, even if paying fair and market value. If beneficiaries are getting more money than they would have, if not for the executor buying them out, the executor should explain it to the beneficiaries. For example, the executor can explain the savings on transaction costs, such as not having to pay a broker. There must be a feeling that the executor fulfilled his responsibilities to the beneficiaries.

Communicate with the beneficiaries. The executor should communicate with the beneficiaries, be transparent about the money he is taking from the estate, explain the reasoning behind it and try to get on the same page with the beneficiaries.

Do not commingle funds. The executor should place all estate funds into an estate account and not into his personal account. New York Consolidated Laws, Estates, Powers and Trusts Law – EPT § 11-1.6 states that “Every fiduciary shall keep property received as fiduciary separate from his individual property.  He shall not invest or deposit such property with any corporation or other person doing business under the banking law, or with any other person or institution, in his own name, but all transactions by him affecting such property shall be in his name as fiduciary.” [4] Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act – SCP § 719 states that the court can take away a person’s power to manage the estate “where he mingles the funds of the estate with his own or deposits them with any person, association or corporation authorized to do business under the banking law in an account other than as fiduciary.”[5]

Do not use estate funds for personal expenses. The executor can only use estate funds to pay the legitimate expenses of the estate, taxes and legal fees.

Do not distribute any property without getting signed releases from beneficiaries. Once the executor collects the assets of the estate and pays out its debts, it’s time for the executor or administrator of a New York estate to disburse the funds to the beneficiaries. But before the executor does that, it is important to get a written release from the beneficiaries. The release states that the beneficiaries are satisfied with what they are getting and are never going to sue the executor. The best release comes with an informal accounting, which provides a summary of what property went into the estates, what the expenses were, and what is the share of inheritance for each beneficiary.

Having your New York estate lawyer get a release from beneficiaries is especially crucial when the executor is one of the beneficiaries. For example, if the executor is transferring a share of the decedent’s business, house, or other property to themselves, the executor should obtain a written release from the beneficiaries, or at least get them to approve it in writing, to avoid the possibility of the authorized transfer being misconstrued as self-dealing or commingling of funds.

How you can prevent theft from the estate before inventory

To prevent theft from an estate, you need to consult with an estate planning or probate attorney who can help and advise on how to proceed. Some actions you may consider taking are:

  • Get more involved with the parent
  • Be vigilant and be on the lookout for anyone who is trying to take undue advantage of their old age
  • Speak to your parent about issuing a financial power of attorney, so that you can help them manage their finances
  • Learn about guardianship options and decide if a guardianship makes sense in order to help you manage your parent’s affairs

Whether you are a beneficiary and you are claiming that there is theft from the estate before inventory or if you are an executor and you insist that the transfer of money or property was proper, we at the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin are here for you. We have offices in New York, NY, Brooklyn, NY and Queens, NY. You can call us at 718-509-9774 or send us an email at attorneyalbertgoodwin@gmail.com.


[1] SCP § 711Suspension, modification or revocation of letters or removal for disqualification or misconduct

[2] NY EPTL § 11-1.1

[3] NY EPTL § 11-1.1

[4] NY EPTL § 11-1.6

[5] SCP § 719 – In what cases letters may be suspended, modified or revoked, or a lifetime trustee removed or his powers suspended or modified, without process