Jump to content
TableTalk

Washington DC - Estate Issues

Recommended Posts

Good Day,

My father died testate in Wasington DC in early 2014. As the joint owner of my dad's checking and investment account, my sister (personal rep) took me to court in 2014 to dispute the survivorship because the bank could not produce a 20 year old signature card probably due to multiple bank mergers. Despite having bank statements; letters from the bank; and other joint instruments stating that I'm the owner of the account, the court has considered my sister's challenge. While we are debating that issue, my sister undersold the Washington, DC home in Spring 2014 and to date she and her lawyer has not given interested parties an accounting. I have no clue what her lawyer is charging the estate to defend my sister. My sister also told me that she will keep me in court until all the money is gone if I don't turn the joint account funds over to the estate. The very next day (this past Friday) she distributed money from the estate to one interested party and there is a total of 5 parties who are entitled, per my dad's will. The estate is currently "unsupervised" and I would like to file a petition for "supervised". Do I have grounds to do so as it is now going on two years and the interested parties are in the dark. Can her lawyer delay giving interested parties an accounting due to the bank account dispute? Thank you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, you do have grounds to do so, but it's best if you have your own attorney do it for you.  The bank account dispute can not be used as grounds for a delay.  Eventually she is going to have to provide one.  Does this estate have debts that need to be paid?  She can not legally withhold a distribution to beneficiaries and is perilously close to committing breach of fiduciary duty.  Your attorney can advise you on what needs to be done next.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As the joint owner of my dad's checking and investment account, my sister (personal rep) took me to court in 2014 to dispute the survivorship because the bank could not produce a 20 year old signature card probably due to multiple bank mergers.

 

What you've written here is that your sister is/was "the joint owner of [your] dad's checking and investment account."  But I don't think that's what you meant.  Am I correct?

 

 

 

Despite having bank statements; letters from the bank; and other joint instruments stating that I'm the owner of the account, the court has considered my sister's challenge.

 

Of course the court is going to consider her challenge.  Whether your evidence or her evidence ultimately carries the day is what the court exists to determine.

 

 

 

While we are debating that issue, my sister undersold the Washington, DC home in Spring 2014 and to date she and her lawyer has not given interested parties an accounting.

 

Ok...have you filed appropriate papers with the probate court to compel her to provide an accounting (assuming that one was required since the date of the sale)?  If so, what was the outcome?  If not, why not?

 

 

 

I have no clue what her lawyer is charging the estate to defend my sister.

 

Defend her against what?

 

 

 

The estate is currently "unsupervised" and I would like to file a petition for "supervised". Do I have grounds to do so[?]

 

One would have to review or be familiar with DC probate law to know for sure, but I certainly suspect you do.  Any reason you (apparently) haven't consulted with a local attorney to discuss this?

 

 

 

Can her lawyer delay giving interested parties an accounting due to the bank account dispute?

 

Her lawyer has no obligation whatsoever to provide accountings.  She does.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good Day,

Thank you for your responses.

1. I am the joint owner of the accounts, the bank is unable to provide a signature card but have statements, withdrawal and deposits slips dating back to the 80's.

 

2. She has not proven to the court any evidence that the joint account does not exist.

 

3. I've asked my attorney several times to file papers requesting an accounting. I initially went into court without an attorney and gave testimony and hired an attorney after realizing that this would not be solved overnight. I recently learned that the attorney did not bother to read transcripts from the first hearing. I was told that my attorney had to file the papers.

 

4. Maybe defend is the wrong term, but as an interested party, her lawyer has not advised her to give me a copy of an accounting.

 

5. There are NO debts and one of the interested parties confirmed that a check was written to her from the estate's bank account last week and there are four of us total.

 

6. My lawyer told me that I wasn't a good witness but my response to him, "am I not paying you to prepare me to respond to questions." I have to call to remind him hearing dates; ask him what is the strategy, etc.

 

7. I want to change this to a "supervised" administration and my lawyer has not move forward. He's been saying I will write a letter and it hasn't happened.

 

Thank you,

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good Day,

 

The Personal Representative distributed partial assets to one heir and not the others without clearing it with the court and giving us a final accounting. What should my next steps be? Is there a state code that allows the personal rep to distribute to one and not the others. The will is clear that equal shares of proceeds from the sell of the home would be divided equally!!! Thank you

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First of all, I assume that you're one of the heirs of the estate.  Please say so if that's not the case.

 

 

 

Is there a state code that allows the personal rep to distribute to one and not the others.

 

Rather obviously, that depends on the state where the estate is being administered, which you didn't identify in your post.

 

 

 

What should my next steps be?

 

Well...putting questions of law aside, how about calling the personal rep and asking why he/she made a partial distribution to only one heir and asking for confirmation that the partial distribution (1) won't impact the personal rep's ability to pay estate debt, and (2) won't impact the distribution of the net estate required by the terms of the will?  Hard to understand why that wouldn't be the first thing you'd do (maybe you already did, but you didn't say anything about that in your post, so...).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am one of 5 heirs to the estate in Washington DC. The personal rep, my sibling, is estranged from us but one; not the one he gave money to. PR gave brother money after he cried about not having enough money to pay the balance due to Georgetown University. His kid missed the Fall semester because of the same reason and the PR refused to help then. So, my brother said that PR gave him money (sale of decedent's home) from the estate bank account. I really thought a final accounting had to be done prior to distributing any money from the estate!!! The will is clear that the home must be distributed in equal parts to all the children.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, an accounting is not needed before any distributions may be made. (A final accounting is, as the name suggests, the last accounting the PR makes prior to the estate closing, but there are other accountings required if the estate is open for long enough.) First, it matters in DC whether the estate is subject to supervised administration or unsupervised administration. Accounting is only required if the estate is supervised.

 

If the estate is supervised then the initial accounting is due about one year after the estate is opened for probate (I won't get into the technical details of the timing of that for now) and then subsequent accountings are required every nine months after that with a final accounting required when the PR's term administering the estate is ending. The court may also order additional accountings as it deems necessary. DC Code § 20-724.

 

As you can see from this arrangement that the accounting is required simply on a set schedule every nine months after the first accounting is due and has nothing to do with when distributions are made from the estate.

 

So start by finding out whether the estate is subject to supervised administration. If it is, then you can expect the PR to provide the accounting on the schedule I described above. If the PR doesn't do that then you can go to court to compel the accounting.

 

The PR doesn't have to give out distributions to all the beneficiaries at the same time. What will matter here is whether ultimately the estate provides the proper distribution to each of the beneficiaries. That some get part of their share a bit earlier than others is not by itself improper.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you. The estate is currently "unsupervised". It was my understanding that the PR doesn't have to provide an accounting to the court but he must provide to the interested parties. How do I know as an interested party if what he gave to one interested party is in order when the Will is clear that the proceeds from the home must be distributed equally. This estate has been open since February 2014; house sold Spring 2015 and we don't get to see anything!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

According to DC code 20-734 Duty to Account Unsupervised Administration

An unsupervised personal representative shall account to interested persons for his receipts, disbursements, and distribution of estate assets at reasonable intervals, or on reasonable demand, and may be compelled to account to the Court in a proceeding initiated by an interested person, following notice and hearing.

 

I want to file a petition to change to supervised due to the PR's failure to provide an account.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At this point you do not know whether this estate is supervised or unsupervised.  Have you looked at the probate file at the courthouse?  By filing the petition, you are going to be regarded by the PR as somewhat of a nuisance.  Better for you to be patient and let the probate process eventually play out, and by then you will have all of the information you want.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Is there a state code that allows the personal rep to distribute to one and not the others.

 

 

Rather obviously, that depends on the state where the estate is being administered, which you didn't identify in your post.

 

 

Washington DC.

 

I'll leave it to you or someone else to look at the probate code.  However, it is unlikely that such a law exists.  It is also likely that any law exists that prohibits what you described.

 

 

 

According to DC code 20-734 Duty to Account Unsupervised Administration

An unsupervised personal representative shall account to interested persons for his receipts, disbursements, and distribution of estate assets at reasonable intervals, or on reasonable demand, and may be compelled to account to the Court in a proceeding initiated by an interested person, following notice and hearing.

 

I want to file a petition to change to supervised due to the PR's failure to provide an account.

 

Go for it.  However, while it might not be reasonable not to have an accounting after nearly two years, you haven't given any indication that you've made a "reasonable demand" for an accounting.  When I asked about contacting the PR to discuss this, you simply punted and said that you and he are "estranged."  Well...so what?  Without a "reasonable demand," I doubt you'll succeed in having him removed.

 

 

 

At this point you do not know whether this estate is supervised or unsupervised.

 

Let me get this straight.  Despite the OP's unequivocal statement that "[t]he estate is currently 'unsupervised,'" you think you know better than the OP what he/she does and doesn't know?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good Day,

According to the Notice to Heirs, Legatees and Interested Parties received by interested parties, the estate is "unsupervised". On the DC Probate Courts Online, the estate is "unsupervised". When the the PR was assigned, it clearly stated "unsupervised".  If it were supervised, the court would have ordered an accounting at specific intervals during the pass 2 years. I have two email requests to the PR and his attorney and two witnessed face to face requests-PR was contacted at lease four times regarding this matter. The above Code 20-734 was copied from "The Code of the District of Columbia".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll leave it to you or someone else to look at the probate code.  However, it is unlikely that such a law exists.  It is also likely that any law exists that prohibits what you described.

 

FYI, in the last sentence above (from my response earlier today), I should have typed "unlikely," not "likely" (in other words, I doubt there's a law that says anything one way or the other about an early, partial distribution to only one of multiple heirs).

 

As for the accounting, assuming a reasonable amount of time has passed since you made your demands, and unless there's something in the Code that requires a certain method of delivery for a demand (e.g., certified mail), then you're probably in a position to seek to compel an accounting, and I suggest you consult with a local probate attorney.

 

As for the status of the estate as unsupervised, it's probably safe to assume that "knort4" didn't bother to read or overlooked your clear statement in that regard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good Day,

I fired my attorney last month in writing and per the Court, she has not filed a motion to withdraw. She stated that I have to sign a consent in order to do so. I am not planning to hire another attorney and don't consider a hearing as a trial, or is it. The attorney promised to send me the final invoice and the filing of necessary papers to withdraw last month. To date, she is now asking me to choose from one of  the following below before she can file. Your thoughts please.

 

“© Withdrawal of Appearance. (1) If a trial date has not been set, an attorney may withdraw the attorney's appearance in a civil action by filing a praecipe signed by the attorney and the attorney's client, noting such withdrawal, provided that another attorney enters or has entered an appearance on behalf of the client at that time. (2) If a trial date has been set or if the client's written consent is not obtained, or if the client is not represented by another attorney, an attorney may withdraw the attorney's appearance only by order of the Court upon motion by the attorney served upon all parties to the case or their attorneys. Unless the client is represented by another attorney or the motion is made in open court in the client's presence, a motion to withdraw an appearance shall be accompanied by a certificate of the moving attorney listing the client's last known address and stating that the attorney has served upon the client a copy of the motion and a notice advising the client to obtain other counsel, or, if the client intends to represent himself or herself or to object to the withdrawal, to so notify the clerk in writing within 10 days of service of the motion upon the client. (3) Except where leave to withdraw has been granted in open court in the presence of the affected client, the clerk shall send to the affected client by 1st class mail, postage prepaid, a copy of any order granting leave to withdraw. In cases where (1) no new counsel has entered an appearance, and (2) the client has not notified the Clerk of the client's intention to represent himself or herself, the Clerk shall include with a copy of the order a notice instructing the client to arrange for 1 of the 2 foregoing actions with respect to appearance to be promptly accomplished. (4) The Court may deny an attorney's motion for leave to withdraw if the withdrawal would unduly delay trial of the case, be unduly prejudicial to any party, or otherwise not be in the interests of justice.”

 

Thank you.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What is the reason she is being fired--why are you dissatisfied with her performance so far?

 

How will not having an attorney affect your probate case--is there more work to be done?

 

Is there enough money in the estate to pay her bill for the work she has done so far, and is there enough to afford the new attorney's services?

 

The terminology you have been given appears to stack the deck in the attorney's favor---you can accomplish the firing by sending her written notice, but if you need the services of a new probate attorney to finish the probate, it would be wiser to ask your new attorney will take the necessary steps on your behalf to fire the prior attorney.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My attorney did not communicate with me; I often would have to call her about the upcoming hearing before the Auditor Master and ask "do you plan to meet  with me to discuss our strategy." I asked the attorney to file a petition to have the estate change from unsupervised to supervised as the PR was distributing money to some and not all named heirs and not providing information to the heirs re accounting. She did not do it. Also, the opposing attorney kept referencing statements I had made in a previous hearing with the Auditor Master when I didn't have an attorney in 2014. I couldn't undertand why my attorney, when hired, did not get a copy of the transcript, after she said she would, to see what was said at the first hearing. Her response; I didn't know you wanted to pay for a transcript. She couldn't respond back to the PR attorney because she had no clue what was in the transcript. I repeatedly asked for a copy of my invoice and it took weeks to get it. When she finally sent an invoice and an accounting, it belonged to another client. She told me I had grounds to petition the court for "supervised" administration but she never filed. She told me on a Friday to tell me that there was going to be a phone status hearing only again to find out it was for another client of hers.

 

I am one of several heirs and the PR order me to court because I shared joint financial accounts with my parent and she wants it  turned over to the estate after the bank placed the accounts in my name only.

 

The attorney received a written notice from me last month ending her services. What bothered me the most --following the last hearing, my attorney told me that I didn't make a good witness and I had to remind her that she didn't meet with me to prepare for the evidentuary hearing. 

 

The hearings are before the Auditor and that's why I didn't believe it was a trial.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for the clarification.  Yes, you were poorly served by this attorney and this is the type of person who gives attorneys a bad reputation.

 

This hearing is very important, and since it involves YOUR money, you need to have a new attorney representing you.  Get one ASAP and tell the attorney about your dire need for the transcript and don't hire any attorney who can't tell you how to get or preferably you will find one who can tell you he/she will get it for you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good Afternoon,

In Washington, D.C. PR distributed partial estate assets to three of our siblings. The terms of our father's will clearly states that the proceeds from the sale of the family home are to be equally divided among all the children (naming each child). The PR initially gave one sibling a partial distribution and upon my petition to the Court requesting "supervised" administration, the PR decided to give two other siblings the same amount; and I, to date, have not received a distribution.  Is this allowable under DC Code.

 

Is it legal for the Personal Representative to take personal money (his portion of the beneficiary proceeds from decedent) and deposit the insurance check into the Estate Bank Account?

Edited by Findlaw_FN

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is it legal for the Personal Representative to take personal money (his portion of the beneficiary proceeds from decedent) and deposit the insurance check into the Estate Bank Account?

 

The question makes no sense because you provided no context.

 

What are "the beneficiary proceeds from decedent"?  Proceeds of what?  Also, what "insurance check" are you talking about?  Do "the beneficiary proceeds from decedent" have any relationship to "the insurance check"?  Is this in reference to a life insurance policy?  If so, is the estate designated as the beneficiary or was no beneficiary designated?  If neither of those is the case, why would the personal representative deposit an "insurance check" in the estate's account?

 

All that being said, it is rarely legal to deposit money into an estate account, regardless of the source.  How the personal representative uses funds in the estate account may or may not be legal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The proceeds are from the insurance company. The children each received a check from our father's insurance policy and the PR deposited his into the estate bank account as a loan. Each check was written out to each of us in our name. He claimed it was for estate expenses. Our dad left no debt and there were no claims against the estate.

Edited by Findlaw_FN

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...