Q: What can I do when executor is running up expenses?
My aunt opened probate on my dad estate, he had no will in Alabama. Now she is running up expenses, such as she purchased a $4000+ headstone from the estate and had a $10K funeral. All was paid from my dad's bank acct. He wanted to a military burial. Probate was open without my brother or I being notified. We are out of state so we can't be executor. Can we sue to recoup the cost?
A: I am sorry for your loss. You can always hire an attorney to file a petition to remove the Administrator and seek to recoup expenses. However, when an Administrator closes an estate he or she must get the consent of the heirs. If the heirs refuse to consent, the probate court will hold a final settlement hearing. In other words you will be afforded an opportunity to address this spending at the end.
It is during this process that you as an heir can challenge the actions (and spending) of the Administrator. The court can disallow expenses if it feels they are unreasonable. Courts generally give Administrators a lot of latitude and the cost of filing a challenge can cost thousands of dollars. Therefore, it might be a good idea to voice your concern about additional expenses with your aunt. Perhaps you discuss this issue and arrive at a solution moving forward that avoids a costly court battle (the Administrator's legal fees in defending herself are paid from the estate).
Of course if you would like specific advice as to whether you should take any action, you should consult with an attorney.
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