I am sending a certified letter to my mother’s estate attorney, asking all the questions I have. The office refused to speak to me. I am one of 4 siblings in the will. My sister is co-executor with my brother and they have kept me in the dark about anything going on. I was told if I send him a certified letter, he has to respond to all my questions “Duty to Inform”. How long does he have to respond to me. Illinois
2 Answers from Attorneys
I am sorry for your loss. It seems odd, but the estate attorney does not necessarily represent you. There is no certified letter duty to inform law, so there is no specific time limit. The fact that the attorney has agreed to answer your written questions seems to be a good sign, and I would imagine he will answer them in a reasonable period of time. Some questions may be answered by reviewing the probate file at the courthouse. If you feel your interests are not being protected, you should hire your own attorney to represent you in the probate proceedings.
I am sorry for your loss. While I recommend proceeding with the letter, there is not any assurance of getting a response. I am not aware of any "duty" imposed on the attorney or the estate representative to respond to certified communications. It would be good practice for the attorney to respond on behalf of the representatives, but not required.
That said, if you do not receive a satisfactory response, then there are several considerations. First, get an understanding of the probate process and be realistic in your expectations. I would say that the soonest most people should expect an estate to conclude is one year after the decedent's passing. You should receive an accounting and Final Report before the estate can be closed. Second, check the court docket (probably available on line) or the court file (at the circuit clerk's office) to better understand where things stand. Third, feel free to show up at any scheduled court dates, such as routine status dates, where the judge should help you better understand what is happening. Fourth, if independent administration was ordered and you have cause for concern, then file the forms requesting termination of independent administration and see where that leads. Fifth, perhaps most importantly, seek the advice of a reputable probate attorney near the court in which the probate case is being handled.