Who is liable for the taxes and the lawyer fees in a will estate distribution? 20 Answers as of April 21, 2014

The executor hires a lawyer and pays all taxes to the state. The amount is not broken down the hires. One person gets 20k, another gets a car, another one gets some personal item listed in the will, 6 grandchildren gets 1k each and I receive 1/3 of what is left then why should I pay for all those taxes. Plus why should I pay for the lawyer that she hired without my approval to hire him. I told the lawyer I would not sign the final paper unless I see what the total is and what the payout is. Who is paying the taxes and the lawyer fees because I will pay my share of the taxes that is all.

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LAW OFFICE OF ROBERT I LONG
LAW OFFICE OF ROBERT I LONG | Robert I. Long
Unless the will provides otherwise, the general rule is that the estate pays all administrative expenses (filing fees, publication charges, probate referee fee, taxes, executor commissions, attorney fees, certification charges, postage, etc.), as well as all creditor claims, before any division or distribution.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/21/2014
Sebby Law Office
Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
Generally, if the estate has enough assets, the estate pays the taxes and all expenses of settling the estate, including the attorney's fee, unless the will states otherwise. By law, all bills have to be paid before the heirs get anything; if there aren't enough assets in the estate to pay the bills, the heirs may not get anything, no matter what the will states. The executor has every right to hire any professional necessary to settle the estate, including attorneys, accountants, and appraisers. The heirs have no say in the matter unless they can prove that the executor is defrauding the estate by running up an unnecessarily large tab for expenses. The executor also has to file several reports with the probate court, including a final accounting of the distribution of the assets to creditors and heirs. You can ask to see that.
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 4/16/2014
KEELSLAW | WOODY KEELS
The estate should pay the fees prior to any distribution and distribute the balance to the heirs. However, if the heirs agree, they could each pay their pro-rata share of taxes and expenses.
Answer Applies to: South Carolina
Replied: 4/16/2014
Robert E. Giffin | Robert E. Giffin CPA
Ask for an itemized statement of the attorney fees and an accounting for the estate prepared by or for the executor.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 4/16/2014
Law Office of Nathan Wagner
Law Office of Nathan Wagner | Nathan J. Wagner
It sounds like the executor and attorney are doing this distribution correctly. You receive 1/3 of "what is left" (which is called the residuary). The taxes and legal fees are supposed to come out of the residuary, not the specific gifts to other beneficiaries. In other words, you should get 1/3 of what is left after the taxes and fees are paid.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/15/2014
    Law Offices of Frances Headley | Frances Headley
    Generally, the estate as a whole is liable for the taxes and attorneys fees which are paid before the estate is divided and given to the beneficiaries. The Will can change that by stating that certain gifts should bear the expenses. You should consult a probate attorney to review the documents and advise you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/15/2014
    Law Ofices of Edwin K. Niles | Edwin K. Niles
    It is the executor's job to retain the lawyer and not yours. Unless the will says otherwise, the residuary beneficiaries pay the lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/15/2014
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
    Generally the remainderman pays all expenses from the balance of the estate. Have an attorney review the Will. It sounds like it may be correct, but it should be reviewed by an attorney to be sure.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 4/15/2014
    James Oberholtzer, Attorney at Law
    James Oberholtzer, Attorney at Law | James Oberholtzer
    The amounts of the gifts should come from the Will. If the amounts are correct, the attorney gets paid out of the estate.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 4/15/2014
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    It sounds as if to me that the executor is doing precisely what she is required to do, and you should also be aware, is able to hire counsel at the estate's expense in order to assist her. The remaining property is then distributed in accord with the will. You, as an heir, or potential heir, have very little to do with any of the decisions and are only entitled to an accounting, and the portion of the estate which was left to you, if any.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 4/15/2014
    Law Office Of Victor Waid
    Law Office Of Victor Waid | Victor Waid
    The estate is liable for all expenses and taxes.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/15/2014
    Peters Law, PLLC
    Peters Law, PLLC | Mark T. Peters, Sr.
    Generally, taxes and debts are paid by the estate as a whole. It sounds like the decedent made specific bequests to certain people. Those bequest get taken care of first. If you got the residuary estate, you get what is left after all of those payments. You didn't pay the taxes, the estate did.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 4/15/2014
    Ashcraft & Ashcraft, Ltd.
    Ashcraft & Ashcraft, Ltd. | Randall C. Romei
    Administrative expenses are paid before any distribution. Taxes are an administrative expense. Attorney 'a fees are an administrative expense. The attorney's fees can be the subject of an objection. The Court can rule on the reasonableness of the fees. The specific bequests are then paid. The residuary is then divided into shares. The burden of the administrative expenses impacts the residuary unless there is specific language in the Will apportioning those expenses. That is the effect of the terms of the will and thus the intent of the testator.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 4/15/2014
    Polsinelli Shughart PC | William B. Prugh
    Sorry, not enough facts to answer these questions. But, generally, the estate itself pays taxes, fees and expenses that arise, and those expenses may reduce the amount available to distribute. But, this is really a probate & estate question more than a tax question. You may need to consult your own attorney to advise you properly.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 4/15/2014
    Frederick & Frederick PLC | James P Frederick
    The ESTATE pays all administrative expenses. If anyone else makes such payments, he or she is entitled to reimbursement.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 4/15/2014
    Law Office of Patricia A. Simmons
    Law Office of Patricia A. Simmons | Patrica A Simmons
    The taxes should be paid from by the estate prior to the closure of the estate and final distribution. In addition, the attorney fees are paid from estate assets. All debts of the estate and attorney fees are paid from estate funds. The balance is then distributed to the heirs. If specific requests were paid, those must be paid first. It appears that you are the residual beneficiary. Your approval of the estate attorney is not necessary, the personal representative chooses his/her own attorney. If there is a waiver of an account, you must sign a waiver and will not receive any accounting. If waivers are not received from all the beneficiaries, the personal representative must then file an account. Contact a probate attorney to discuss your concerns in more detail.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/15/2014
    Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
    The Executor is required to pay all claims, attorney fees, and taxes before any distribution is made to any beneficiary.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 4/15/2014
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
    You should have gotten a copy of the Final Account, which would set forth how costs were paid, it would include an Affidavit of Attorney Fees showing the lawyer's bills all the detail you're looking for. If not, go to the court and ask to see the probate file on the estate. It will all be in there.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 4/15/2014
    Patrick W. Currin, Attorney at Law | Patrick Currin
    Payment for the attorney is always part of the estates debts, including your share.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/15/2014
    James Law Group
    James Law Group | Christine James
    The ESTATE pays the lawyer and taxes and both are priority payments. You have a right to see an accounting, but you do not have a right to dispute the legitimate payment of those estate debts. In the end, you will only pay your share because those payments "come off the top" and essentially out of everyone who gets a percentage's share.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/15/2014
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