Los Angeles, CA asked in Probate for Tennessee

Q: Can probate attorney refuse to pay legitimate claim (burial expenses), let Medicaid take proceeds of real estate sale?

My daughter filed claim to MIL’s estate for $5000 for loan she and husband took out to pay MIL’s burial expenses. Her attorney said it would be a “priority claim.” Probate attorney has not paid it, refuses communication with them. Also, without telling any of the other 3 heirs, made a secret private deal between oldest sibling and Medicaid whereby MIL’s house was sold to oldest sibling at a negotiated price ( no auction). Oldest sibling also was paid for his claim against estate ($10,000 for property taxes, utilities, etc). Balance of estate has now already gone to Medicaid estate recovery. My daughter is out in the cold, paying for a burial because none of the siblings would help pay for it. There surely is something improper or even illegal here, isn’t there?

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2 Lawyer Answers

Leonard Robert Grefseng

  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Columbia, TN
  • Licensed in Tennessee

A: Possibly- on some occasions, a court will approve a private sale of property if it can be shown that the private sale is for a reasonable price. Selling at auctions will involve advertising expenses and a real estate commission ( even if the court clerk acts as the sales agent, they too will take a fee based on the sales price). In summary, a private can sometimes yield more net profit to the estate by avoiding sale expenses. However, it's troublesome that one siblings claim was paid and not the others, especially if it was for funeral expenses, which is truly a priority expense ( it should get paid first). consult an experienced probate lawyer for more specific advice- this question requires a more thorough analysis than can be provided in this question answer format.

Anthony M. Avery

  • Probate Lawyer
  • Knoxville, TN
  • Licensed in Tennessee

A: This was probably an insolvent Estate which should not have been filed for Probate in the first place. People like your Daughter always get hurt by the legal but improper performance of professional duties of a lawyer and administrator/executor who get paid before anybody else, then sacrifice the real assets for the benefit of one or two creditors.

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