Legal Question in Tax Law in Georgia

My uncle passed away last year and I was named the executor of his estate in a will that was changed a year or so before his death. Prior to my being named the executor, he had listed his accountant as executor. This accountant had worked with my uncle for over 25 years and the accountant was unaware of the change in executor status until I brought the revised will in with information for filing taxes. As a result of extremely poor customer service I recently decided to cut ties with this accountant and take my business elsewhere. The accountant demanded that I pay him for his time, which I did. This accountant continued to berate me and say that I have been controlling, demanding, impatient and disrespectful. Let me mention that retuns had to be filed for estate, trust, and individual accounts. An extension had been requested, which was fine. Only three phone calls were made to his firm within the past 5 months to request an update on the process of the filings, as this is the final matter in closing my uncle's estate. After a heated confrontation the accountant demands information regarding all monies that have gone in and out of trust and estate accounts as he has "fudiciary rights and responsibility" . His words. He also threatens to contact all beneficiaries of the estate to tell them that I am acting unethically in not allowing him the time that he needs to correctly process all returns . He refuses to return the copies of the will and trust that I had provided, stating that "as fudiciary he has rights to that information" . So, all of that background info to ask this- legally, does this accountant have a right or obligation to the will, the trust, and all account information? Does being the accountant equal fudiciary responsibiliy? I thought he was just the tax guy. Am I wrong? Thanks for any and all guidance.

Asked on 7/19/13, 2:35 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Robert Gardner Hicks, Massey & Gardner, LLP

If he is the person who has been hired to prepare the tax returns for the estate, he does have a fiduciary responsibility to the estate in terms of making sure that everything is documented correctly and that the returns are done correctly. As of the rest of it, it may be that he is angry about not being the executor and is making this personal. As the executor, you have the right to fire him and chose someone else. This does not mean that he may not still contact the other heirs and make certain statements to them, and so long as these statements are not false there is not much you can do. It sounds to me like you need to get another accountant.

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Answered on 7/23/13, 8:31 am

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