Florham Park Private Client counsel Fred Schoenbrodt was quoted in the “Ask the Biz Brain” column, originally published in The Star-Ledger.
In the Q&A article, a New Jersey resident posed the following question: “My husband and his 89-year-old mother are co-executors of his uncle's estate. The uncle divided his estate in four equal shares: my husband, brother, sister and mother. The sister and the mother are at odds with us, accusing my husband of things that never happened and executing by proxy. As a result, nothing is getting done for the estate. My husband has suggested his mother defer her inheritance for tax reasons. She has more than enough money of her own for her own needs, and is without any estate planning. What are my husband's options?”
Fred advised the reader, “Your husband should exercise care in safeguarding and distributing the estate. If he has not done so already, he should prepare an inventory of his uncle's assets and keep a careful accounting of assets received during administration and any distributions or disbursements."
He continued, “When it comes time to make a final distribution, he will want these records to ensure that he can show that he properly administered the estate.”
Regarding the distribution of the tangible personal property in the estate, Fred said “He can inform them that any property that is not claimed by a certain date will be sold, donated or discarded. The proceeds of any sale would be added to the estate account and later distributed to the beneficiaries.”
Fred explained, "If your husband cannot work with his co-executor, he can petition the court for instructions and relief. Perhaps the court will agree with him that his mother is being unreasonable and either remove her as a co-executor or fashion some other appropriate relief.”
“One important note: Beyond explaining to his mother her options, your husband should not push her to disclaim her share of the estate,” he concluded.