Protecting Estate Assets and the Beneficiaries

By HSK, June 24, 2014

Our own 11th district court of appeals has just affirmed the lightning quick decision of the Geauga county probate judge to remove an executor who had a conflict of interest in and entanglement with the assets of the estate he was entrusted to administer.  The former accountant of the decedent ended up being put on her bank accounts as a survivor beneficiary just weeks before she passed away and apparently while she was being administered morphine.  The hundreds of thousands of dollars that would have gone to her beneficiaries ended up in his personal account.  The attorney handling the interests of the beneficiaries had not even asked for the removal of the executor, to which the judge stated from the bench during a hearing on a related matter “Why the heck is he still the executor ?  If you claim he took $440,000.00 from the estate before it became an estate, what’s your position on him staying as executor to begin with ?”

The moral of the story is stay on guard about who it is in a position of trust, and demand to see all of the paperwork backing up actions that are taken, and, above all, hire an attorney who doesn’t need to have the judge do the job the attorney should have been doing.  A restraining order would have been the first item of business when the last minute signature card changes came to light.  Don’t argue while the money is being consumed.  Go after it immediately.

Good job to the judge and the court of appeals to strengthen the protections that need to be in place when individuals end up with all of the money who were not even provided for in the will.

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