My parents recently passed and their Will states ALL assets/funds (minus expenses, of course) are to be split equally between their 5 children, which I am one of. For simplistic purposes, a basic Will with nothing out the ordinary.
My question: Is it legal for the Executor of the Will, which happens to be the husband of my sister (one of the beneficiaries) to pay 4 of the 5 beneficiaries for work they performed on the estate house renovations, $500.00 each totaling $2,000.00 with estate funds?? This compensation is for “time” only and does not include the supplies/expenses. I unfortunately, had surgery 4 days after my father’s funeral and via written Dr.’s orders was unable to assist with renovations (on Leave of Absence from work). In addition, they also used estate funds $433.+ for dinner of the 4 beneficiaries, their spouses and some of their grandchildren? I suspect that is where they decided to pay themselves. I understand they did in fact do the work to the estate home…and if it wasn’t for the fact that I am certainly no stranger to extending my helping hand to each and every one of them on numerous occasions over the years without any expectations of compensation, I wouldn’t have an issue. I thought that’s what a real family did!!
In addition, there are other questionable checks in which the executor wrote to himself (and my sister) i.e., over $1150.00, explanation listed as “other bills”.
2 Answers from Attorneys
As an executor he has a fiduciary duty to properly manage the estate. That said where is the estate;s attorney?
It sounds from your post that you are bemoaning the fact that you were not treated equally as well as the fact that the family is treating the estate like their personal slush fund. Whatever you have done for family in the past does not enter into it here. So get that out of your head.
The job of the executor is to figure out what is owned, what is owed, to pay just debts and to distribute what is left to the beneficiaries.
Now, if the house needed work and if the other siblings were to do the work at cost of their labor only and if they were paid the same hourly rate as would a regular person (carpenter, handyman, electrician, etc.) then that seems fair that they should receive compensation. You are objecting that they get their share + compensation for work and if they did the work I don't see on its face with a problem for this if they submit proper bills.
I do have a problem with them paying for a dinner out of estate funds. That is not a proper estate expense.
I don't know enough about the payment for other bills. Before an estate can be closed the executor is required to file an accounting which is then confirmed by the court clerk or judge, depending on the county in PA where the estate is pending. Beneficiaries have 10 days to file written objections to the accounting. Have you received the final accounting yet and have you filed objections?
We are not talking about a great deal of money here. How much are you willing to spend here on objections? If I were you, you should be sitting down with your own probate attorney and pay the attorney to review the file and final accounting and proceed with the objections if warranted. If you are not willing to do that then you can decide to accept and move forward and never speak to your siblings again or not.