Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Ohio

My father passed away December 2011, I received a copy of the estate in which my brother was named executor. It has almost been 9 months since my dad's death and I have seen none of the property left to me and my brother will not return my calls. In addition, the estate involves selling 10 properties and dividing up the proceeds 3 ways between my brother, myself and another person. The estate states this should be done within 12 months of my dad's death. Should I obtain an attorney and what are my rights in Ohio? Thank you

Asked on 3/09/12, 8:20 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Anthony Rifici Rifici Law Office
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Very sorry to hear you recently lost your father.

Regarding probate administration in Ohio, once the estate is opened (by the Will being admitted to probate) and the Executor appointed, the first significant deadline would be the requirement to file an Inventory of all the probate property. This is normally required within 90 days of the Executor's appointment, though extensions can be granted. If your father passed in December 2011, then you may just be getting to that time, depending on when the estate was opened.

If in fact there are multiple pieces of real estate as you indicated (10) that must be sold by the Executor, then I would anticipate the probate process will indeed take a significant amount of time -- likely longer than 12 months. Even if the will states 12 months, this would be what is considered "precatory language," meaning it would be desirable and within the decedent's wishes, but it would not be controlling. If the estate administration is likely to take longer than 6 months, the Executor can request and be granted an extension; in fact, this is done quite routinely.

The next significant deadline for the Executor would be to file an accounting at 13 months after being appointed. A copy of the account must be provided to you for review and you then have an opportunity to object if you believe something has been mishandled, etc.

Now, having said these things, the implication is that you will have to be somewhat patient; however, this does not excuse your brother's lack of communication with you. In fact, as the Executor, he has a duty to act honestly and fairly in relation to all the beneficiaries. Part of this is to keep you reasonably informed, and if he refuses to do so then you may have grounds to have him removed as the Executor. This would require a motion to remove be field with the Court and probably an evidentiary hearing to prove the grounds for removal.

I would recommend you discuss all the details with an experienced probate attorney so you can evaluate whether or not removal should be pursued, or possibly the situation could be smoothed out just by having an attorney represent you and keep tabs on the administration to ensure your rights are protected.

If you would like to further discuss the matter, my office is located in Westlake, Ohio; you can reach us by phone at 440.899.7710 or by email at contactus@rificilaw.com. Best of luck with your situation.

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3/09/12, 9:07 am

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