Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Massachusetts

Pre-Trial Hearing & Crooked Administrator

My brother is the administrator of mother's estate. No will and a car and a small piece of real estate as true assets. My brother wants the property, he's offered $10.00 and said he will sell it to himself for that. He submitted an inaccurate inventory (included a named beneficiary acct. and joint acct., made up values, failed to include the car and other items he and my brother took)

We fought this for a while with a lawyer, he was very ineffective, just kept complaining about what my brother and his lawyer were passing thru the courts but did virtually nothing about it. he gave up on us, after 2 yrs of paying him he told us to just send my brother a nasty letter.

pretrial is scheduled in MA, we live in CO. Can the pre-trial be conducted by phone conference? can we request a date change? (sister has the same cancer mom died of and her MRI is scheduled for same day. i just started a new job and can't get the time off. How do we do this if we can?

what my brother is doing is so wrong. doesn't the court care that he's being so deceitful?

I want to make an offer on the property, how do i do this?

thanks for any help.

Asked on 11/01/04, 9:41 pm

3 Answers from Attorneys

Freya Shoffner Shoffner & Associates
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Re: Pre-Trial Hearing & Crooked Administrator

The best way to find out if you can have a telephonic pretrial hearing is to call the court and ask the judge's clerk if the judge will allow it. Otherwise, you may have to make a motion to continue the pretrial hearing to a date and time when you would be able to attend.

Of course, since you have brought an action, you should be aware that as legatees or heirs of the estate you can call your brother's activities into question. To do so effectively, you should have an appraisal of the real property and an accurate value for the other items in dispute.

As for making an offer on the real property, there are a variety of ways that it might be done. However, you should have an attorney review the title report for the property as well as all of the probate documents to help you determine the best way to proceed.

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11/02/04, 11:32 am
Bernard Greenberg KOKISH & GOLDMANIS, P.C.
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Re: Pre-Trial Hearing & Crooked Administrator

Due to the complexities of the issues you raise (both procedural and substantive) you should consult with a lawyer who is experienced with these matters where the case is being heard.

According to the facts that you cite, you should not delay, as that could adversely impact your interests. You should show the lawyer all of the pleadings and correspondence so they can accurately assess the situation.

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11/02/04, 11:33 am
Tom Flynn Law Offices of Thomas V. Flynn
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Re: Pre-Trial Hearing & Crooked Administrator

With respect to your brother and the property: if he has been appointed the administrator he has a duty to act in good faith - what you described is of course not in line with that obligation.

If there was no will, then Massachusetts intestate laws apply to the property including the car and the real estate. You most likely have property rights which would allow you to force a fair market value sale of the proprty if need be, so your brother's offer to buy it for ten bucks is foolishness.

With respect to the court proceeding: It is possible to conduct the hearing by phone, but it is prety much up to the judge - don't delay on addressing the issue of the pretrial. You could also (more likely) motion to postpone/reschedule -if your sister is in active cancer medical treatment she would certainly have valid grounds to request a postponement.

You need an attorney; to attempt to deal with the issues you are describing yourself in Mass. Probate Court would not be wise. And yes, the court absolutely cares if someone lies to them, but remember the Court only has the documents in front of it and the arguments of your advocate to go by.

Good luck.

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11/03/04, 6:54 pm

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