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HypnoticGuy

Executor Liability?

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My mother passed away in December of 2014 and basically the only thing she left to my sister and I is her condominium in Michigan.

 

My sister, who lives in Michigan, was designated as executor of the will.

 

After the funeral several weeks passed before my sister visited mom's condo, and when she finally got around to going there she discovered that a sewer pipe in the ceiling (which separates the upstairs condo) had burst, causing waste water damage to mom's condo on the ground floor.

 

My sister tells me that Mom's homeowner's insurance is refusing to pay for the damages because my mother no longer resided in the condo at the time of the damage.  She tells me that the upstairs neighbor's insurance claims to not be responsible.  My sister also tells me that my uncle reviewed the condo association charter, and the wording seems to indicate the condo association is responsible, and should pay for the damages, though they are refusing.  My sister has told me that she doesn't have the time to bother with the issue, and seems to be planning on just getting back the cleanup and repair costs out of the home sale money without further effort to recover cost of damages from anyone.  I believe this is about $4000 from what I have been able to piece together.

 

My sister decided to wait 6 months before getting the carpet replaced, and getting the kitchen cabinets replaced until our uncle returned from Las Vegas so that he could do the cabinet repairs.  I believe the cost to the estate for the job he did was about $850.  Through this 6 month wait for my uncle to do the work my sister continued to pay all of the utility bills for the condo, as well as the condo association monthly fee (I thought), all of which she plans to be reimbursed for out of the condo sale price.

 

The work on the condo finally got done upon my uncle's return from 6 months in Las Vegas, the condo was put on the market, it sold, and the sale was completed within a couple of months.  About $35,000 remains after closing costs.

 

My sister now tells me that besides the 6+ months of bills, money she borrowed from 3 of my uncles for funereal expenses and the clean up/repairs to the condo she also owes her mother-in-law $2,954 which she had to borrow to stop an attempted foreclosure on the condo due to her not making the condo association payments.

 

This is her explanation in an email I got from her yesterday:

 

$2,954   Elizabeth xxxx (attempted foreclosure by Condo) -- *see below 

 

 

*Condo Management Assoc I spoke to early on.  They contacted me about payments of monthly condo dues.  I explained that I was the PR of the Estate and trying to get them paid (but I had no $) - trying to balance mom's bills and my own proved to be more than I expected - keeping 2 households afloat.  They said they would work with me, would file a lien with the estate and when the condo sold they'd get paid, I thought great that's the way to go.  Well, lo and behold during all the other stuff going on when trying to get the condo cleaned up after the major leak, their attorney filed papers to foreclose on the condo.  I called an attorney I used to work with (he didnt charge me anything for his phone calls or the letters to & from), but the Condo's Mgmt company wouldnt budge.  So, my mother in law loaned me the money to pay the bill and then I had all these other fees to pay.  I've attached a copy of the letters so you can see all the crap they charged for.

 

So, my questions are these:

 

Is it okay for her to just stop pursuing any claim for the sewer pipe damages of about $4000?

 

Does it seem likely that mom's homeowner's insurance company can really deny the claim on the sewer pipe damages because mom didn't live there due to her death, or are they BSing my sister? OR is my sister BSing me?

 

Was it okay for my sister to continue to pay the utility bills and wait 6 months for my uncle to return from Vegas so he could do the cabinet damage repairs, rather than at least getting estimates and possibly spent less than what the 6 months of bills + my uncle's fees cost the estate?  (also possibly avoiding the attempted foreclosure too?).

 

Is the estate really responsible for the $2,954 foreclosure costs due to my sister's mishandling of things and not making the condo association monthly payments? (had she asked the payments could have easily been raised between me, my son, and my daughter but she never told anyone that there was any issue with money).  Or should my sister have to pay for that due to her negligence?

 

Is there any basis to sue my sister, or how can I stop her somehow from taking estate money to pay for her screw ups?

 

I know it's not a lot of money, but it would make a huge difference in my life. As of now I am looking at getting a total of about $7500 as my half of what's left from the $35,000 money from the sale of the condo.  I figure I'd be getting an additional  $1500 minimum to about $4000 or more if my sister handled things properly.  That's a LOT of money to me.

 

Also, I live in Florida, if that matters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nowhere do you mention sister seeking comp for acting as executor. That could total a good chunk that makes what diff you're concerned about moot.

Without going down rabbit hole of insurance policy without any relevant details from you about when mom left her place, you're free to take the position that she could've come to you for money to cover damage repair immediately v. uncle route, and to put place up for sale as soon as legally feasible. Otherwise, I don't get what you expected her to do if your mom only left behind debt and that condo. Sister and family are under NO obligation to front or borrow money to cover estate expenses, incl funeral expenses.

It may be useful to take perspective that at least there was some equity in the place.

You're free to object to accounting filed with court about expenses. I don't see viability in suing sister even if you lived in same state.

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Nowhere do you mention sister seeking comp for acting as executor. That could total a good chunk that makes what diff you're concerned about moot.

Without going down rabbit hole of insurance policy without any relevant details from you about when mom left her place, you're free to take the position that she could've come to you for money to cover damage repair immediately v. uncle route, and to put place up for sale as soon as legally feasible. Otherwise, I don't get what you expected her to do if your mom only left behind debt and that condo. Sister and family are under NO obligation to front or borrow money to cover estate expenses, incl funeral expenses.

It may be useful to take perspective that at least there was some equity in the place.

You're free to object to accounting filed with court about expenses. I don't see viability in suing sister even if you lived in same state.

 

There are many things she could have done to avoid the 6 months of bills due to waiting for my uncle to return from Las Vegas to do the cabinet work.  

 

I believe that there are things that could be done to recover the cost of the broken sewer pipe damages, she just "doesn't have the time" to bother with it.  Mom did not Leave the place. She died while living there.  Shouldn't my sister / the executor be responsible for doing what is necessary to recover these costs?

 

There are many things she could have done to avoid the foreclosure action that cost almost $3000.

 

Is the estate responsible for her careless handling of these things, or can the executor be held liable?  

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50% 

 

So...you're willing to spend $750-2,000 in the hope of getting an additional $1,500-4,000?  That's not going to get you much more than a few nasty letters from a lawyer.  It certainly won't allow you to pursue anything through the probate court with an attorney (although you certainly can try to do this without an attorney).  I suggest you contact a few probate attorneys in the area, generally explain the situation, tell them that you're willing to spend no more than $X, and ask what they recommend.

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