From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: For years, my parents lent money to my cousin and his wife to pay their children’s education. To my surprise, at their deaths, my cousin’s wife was named executor. She “hired” my cousin who is a CPA to handle the estate’s books. Over a year has passed and they refuse to give me any information about the estate and are calling the loans to them, “gifts”. What can I do?
I take it that you are the residuary beneficiary of the will? If so, you have the right to demand through a formal accounting to know where every penny went and a justification for every expense. You also have a right to investigate whether all those years of funding education and other money transfers were gifts or loans.
If they were loans, then part of the estate’s rights are to claim payment. There might be nothing in writing, which then makes this claim difficult, but you even have a right to see the canceled checks to see if “loan” is written on them, or to examine the check register for similar details. Speed is an issue, as banks only keep records for 7 years. If some of those gifts are from more than 7 years ago, starting this process is necessary to secure records. We can certainly help you with this process—we have many similar cases at the moment.