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Thread: Real Estate question - My rights to an accounting?

  1. #1
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    Real Estate question - My rights to an accounting?

    Myself, along with my 4 siblings are inheriting money from the sale of my deceased mother's estate.

    I'll make a long story short. One of my brothers was left as executor of the estate. The house has sold for exactly $237,000, and all of us, save for my brother who is the executor, feels we are being ripped off.

    He is trying to say that we're all going to receive $32,000 total. We are all asking him for an itemized list of deductions. So far, here is what he has supposedly come up with.

    3% goes to realtor fees. 3% is $7110. That now leaves $229,890.

    Now supposedly that $229,890 suddenly drops to $206,000 after "real estate taxes and the estate attorney for title clearance" So he is saying that over $23,000 is being spent on taxes and the attorney. I find that highly unlikely, but I'm not the real estate expert.

    Now he is deducting $14,000 on a home equity loan that my mother had, which my father was a co signer on. If that's the case, it leaves us at $192,000.

    Finally, he said there are about $8,000 worth of debt owed in my mother's name for creditor accounts. That leaves us at $184,000.

    $184,000 split 5 ways is $36,800. All of us have noticed this. Also please note that these are estimates at this time, although the estimate of what we will be supposedly receiving is $32,000 - that is $4,800 for each of us that is not accounted for. $4,800 x 5 is $24,000.

    That is $24,000 not accounted for. And that is IF all of the deductions are truly what he says they are at the time of the final closing.

    Here's another thing to note. He has recently purchased a piece of property in the country for $25,000. He did this last month. I find it HIGHLY ironic that it's very close to the unaccounted money that has been mysteriously deducted from the profit.

    All of us are highly suspicious of this. Whenever we bring it up to him, he gets very defensive and changes the subject. My question is, how can we all be sure we're not getting ripped off? What legal rights do we have in order to be sure that we're all getting a fair deal? I am far from a real estate or probate expert. Anyone familiar with the process, and what rights we have under Federal and/or Washington State law?
    Last edited by Aaron1124; 11-03-2010 at 12:05 PM.

  2. #2
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    You should be able to challenge his actions in court, where he would be required to document his figures.

    You just have to make a decision as to whether any additional distributions and the triumph of justice will be worth the damage done by legal squabbles within the family. That is an incredibly tough call to make. I wish you the best as you proceed with careful consideration.

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    I don't know how probate works in Washington, so my experience in Arkansas might not help. But, here goes:

    (Again, in Arkansas): the executor is entitled to a fee for his time and trouble. That might be a flat amount set by statute, or a percentage of the estate, or whichever is greater. Mileage, expenses, travel accommodations, phone charges, etc., all come out of the estate and are reimbursed to the executor. So do the lawyer's fees (I was shocked at how much the lawyer was legally entitled to, for almost no time or work!)

    Every single dime has to be completely accounted for to the probate court. So does the sale, and the distribution. If you think the executor is hiding or mishandling something, contact the court and SPEAK UP. If you don't, and accept the distribution, the court will be satisfied and close out the case. Seeking redress at that point will be expensive, almost certainly more than your share of the estate.

    And, I hate it for you that one of your siblings seems to be cheating the others. That is going to make for some awkward holidays.

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    http://www.washington-probate.com/Wh...te.htm#process

    The probate process provides:

    A neutral, third-party (a Judge) who can:

    Supervise the process,

    Ensure that it is proceeding according to law, and

    Resolve any disputes (eg, among Heirs and Beneficiaries, between them and the Personal Representative, or regarding title to property or legitimacy of debt).

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    I imagine that the process is similar in most if not all states but the estate must be cleared by the probate court and everything accounted for down to the penny. The executor of the estate is entitled to a percentage of the estate as high as 15% in some cases but usually around a max of 10%. Attorney fees come out of the executors fees normally.

    The $23,000 that he is estimating is not out of reason if he elects to do that. Before the house can be sold with clear title it will have to be approved by the probate court if arrangements had not been made in advance by the deceased. So just contact the probate court about your concerns and it will be audited there.

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    Regular Member sudden valley gunner's Avatar
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    Wait, where did he purchase property in Peirce for $25,000!!!!

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    The OP reports Location: as Washington where the executor is called 'personal representative'. There is no information that the probate is occurring in WA

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    The probate is occurring in Washington.

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    Alright, I just got an alleged itemized list of deductions, and I smell serious B.S.with it. My brother is trying to charge all of us for the bed in which HE purchased for our mom himself when she got sick. There was never any agreement that we'd all pay back for the bed, in which HE is keeping anyway.
    He's also saying he can charge himself an "hourly rate" for any time he spends on the house, including sending me that email.

    Take a look at this email I just got from him:


    "These are the expenses I have paid out of MY pocket thus far, which I will be fully reimbursed. Please keep in mind, I am also allowed to charge the estate an hourly rate for the time I spent. I will most likely not be doing that, but I have spent over 60 hours, not including reporting this to you.



    The obituary 127.40

    The hall rental 300.00

    People’s Memorial membership 25.00

    Cremation 702.33

    Food/Beverage for service 267.50

    2 Death Certificates 40.00

    Purchase Will 30.00 Had I not done this myself the cost would have been 500.00

    Property Taxes in April 427.03 These will be much higher as Mom was getting reduced rate

    The estimate for the taxes for 2010 is another 3900.00.

    Shell Credit Card 250.00 ---Reduced from 417.00 as I worked over an hour negotiating with the credit card department.

    Target Credit Card 2084.38---Reduced from 3578.64---over 4 hours negotiating-had to drive and meet with the manager

    Citicorp Credit Card 1019.89

    Macy’s 260.45

    Attorney 3312.50

    Plane tickets to get Jake here 933.00

    Bed for Mom 500.00

    10279.48



    Eric will be reimbursed 17 dump trips @ 45.00 765.00

    He also saved the Estate quite a bit of money by keeping the lawn mowed every week and hauling 25 loads of clothes and items to the Goodwill. He is not asking for any of that.





    So right off the top of the net proceeds, I will be reimbursed 10279.48 and Eric will be reimbursed 765.00.

    The Listing Agent Commission is approx 7149.00

    Selling Agent Commission is approx 7149.00

    Escrow Fees are approximate 766.50

    Property Excise Tax—approx

    This is NOT the property taxes 4246.74

    Title Fees approx 886.95

    Unpaid property taxes approx 3900.00



    Mom also has a kitchen loan which I did not payoff. Jim has been making the payments on it, and has not Asked to be reimbursed for what he has paid, but would like us to pay off the loan. The balance on that at

    This time is 14558.79



    So off the top of the sale of the home you can subtract 49701.46. The balance will be divided 5 ways, minus

    The check you received and the check Jake received for $150.00—those will be subtracted from each of your shares.



    Any other questions?"

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    Or take it up with the Provost Marshal

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Huffman View Post
    http://www.washington-probate.com/Wh...te.htm#process

    The probate process provides:

    A neutral, third-party (a Judge) who can: ... Ensure that it is proceeding according to law, and Resolve any disputes (eg, among Heirs and Beneficiaries, between them and the Personal Representative, or regarding title to property or legitimacy of debt).
    .

  11. #11
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    Now check this out - this is an email I sent him, followed by his response:

    My email:

    "If all of the deductions are correct at this time, then the total will be $37,399 minus the $150.00 that I borrowed from the estate account. That is, of course, if nothing else is deducted between now and closing. Has the rent money that has been paid by the renters been added toward the total value? Or has it gone toward maintenance and fees for the estate? I believe Rick said they were paying $500.00 per month.
    Thanks for the list."



    His response:

    "They lived there in August and September and moved out in October. I am getting a feeling you are not trusting me. I have used the money they paid for rent to pay the electric, water, sewer and garbage while nobody was living in the house. There is still 1300.00 in the Estate bank account. We will need to hold around 4000.00 for one year for any incidental items that may come up and to pay any income taxes on the estate for the 2010 year. Do you want a copy of every check I have written? I am not accountable to you, I am accountable to the court. Believe me, this has not been a fun thing to be doing."



    So now he's taking offense to questions being asked that each of us have a right to ask. How ridiculous. He's been arrogant his entire life. He was the one who volunteered to take position of the executor, because he has the funding to do so.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron1124 View Post
    Now check this out - this is an email I sent him, followed by his response:
    His response:

    "Believe me, this has not been a fun thing to be doing."
    He's right, it's not a fun thing to be doing. But he's also wrong: he is accountable to the other heirs. The court enforces that accountability, but the court has nothing at stake except a proper accounting and fair distribution.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by KBCraig View Post
    He's right, it's not a fun thing to be doing. But he's also wrong: he is accountable to the other heirs. The court enforces that accountability, but the court has nothing at stake except a proper accounting and fair distribution.
    You are wrong with the fair distribution comment. The court is concerned with the distribution being legal. The locak probate judge is a friend of mine and has told me stories about estates that wound up being distributed legally but no where close to fair.

    Being the executor of an estate can be an extremely hard and unpleasant job when the heirs do not get what they were expecting or wanted even when it is spelled out plainly in the will or law. I have been through this several times and it can cause a lot of hard feelings.

    Some advice to everone reading this. Have will prepared by a lawyer and get him to explain your options for things not included in the will. For instance your guns do not have to be included in your will but you can attach a hand written codicil to the will designating who gets each gun. Second designate an executor that you can trust and let them know they are designated and what they should do in case you die.

    Timing is important after death. In one case my friend was telling about a lady waited too long after her husband's death to file his will in probate. She wound up having to split the sale of her home with her husband's children from a previous marriage 45 years prior that she did not even know existed. It wasn't fair but it was legal.

    One thing to remember is that all debts of the deceased must be paid before anything can be distributed. You see these little notices in the paper that are in such small type it takes a microscope to read. Anyone can claim that the deceased owes them something but the executor and the court can decide to pay or deny the claim. As for family claims such as mileage transporting the deceased to the doctor or even housecleaning. Such claims are legal and have to be paid in many cases. It usually makes the others mad but they are legal. Also any expenses of the executor must be also paid.

    There are lots of things to cause problems among the family. The courts will assure that eveything is legal but fair is not a part of it.

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    Yeah, the word "fair" is overused and misused. It is often used in place of "just," "legal," or "right."

    I work hard to avoid using it except where equality of outcome would be mandatory.

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    By "fair", I meant "legal and proper", not "everybody gets an even slice of pie".

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    Quote Originally Posted by eye95 View Post
    You should be able to challenge his actions in court, where he would be required to document his figures.

    You just have to make a decision as to whether any additional distributions and the triumph of justice will be worth the damage done by legal squabbles within the family. That is an incredibly tough call to make. I wish you the best as you proceed with careful consideration.
    When four out of five come to the conclusion that the fifth is not acting kosher, the likelihood is that the four are correct. Personally, if my brother was acting this way, the court would not need to force him into an accounting. I would question every vendor involved in the transaction and also every creditor involved and get the actual figures from them. Then there is the personal conversation me and brother would have.
    I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do those things to other people and I require the same of them.

    Politicians should serve two terms, one in office and one in prison.(borrowed from RioKid)

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    That is quite a strong HYPOTHETICAL threat without basis in reality.

    The vendors are bound by privacy considerations to respond only to the Executor/Personal Representative and not to a disgruntled third party. Probate court is the proper venue for this disagreement and not the People's Court of public opinion.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Huffman View Post
    That is quite a strong HYPOTHETICAL threat without basis in reality.

    The vendors are bound by privacy considerations to respond only to the Executor/Personal Representative and not to a disgruntled third party. Probate court is the proper venue for this disagreement and not the People's Court of public opinion.
    Actually, as a heir to an estate I am quite legally entitled to the information on anything the estate owes. No court interference needed. No privacy concerns involved.
    I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do those things to other people and I require the same of them.

    Politicians should serve two terms, one in office and one in prison.(borrowed from RioKid)

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