Q: My mother made me executor of the will and my brother is asking me questions about what is being paid and how much is in the account. Do I have to answer his questions?
A: If your mother has died and you are the executor of an estate that is opened in Allegheny County, I do hope that you have an attorney. I know of no obligation during estate administration of an executor to inform the heirs or other persons, how much money is being spent and how much money is in the estate account. However, before an estate closes, the heirs need to sign off on a Family Agreement. By signing the Family Agreement, the heirs agree that they have received their fair share of inheritance and they are satisfied that the estate was administered fairly. If they have suspicions about your activities, whether justified or not, they may refuse to sign the Family Agreement. This would then require your attorney to prepare a full accounting of the estate money and property, called a First and Final Account. The heirs are sent a copy of document with a letter informing them of when the account is to be presented to a judge for approval and that they have the right to appear in court and address the judge. My advice is this. If you are not hiding anything, you should provide at least some basic information. Just talk to the heirs, or let your attorney talk to them. I do this on occasion and I also keep an informal accounting of the estate account which I can send to any heir who requests. You will have less problems down the road if you communicate with family. If you are hiding something, you better inform your attorney.