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The petition of probate stated probable value of $344,000. The distribution was only $40,000 after taxation. Can you please explain the reason for such a difference? My grandmother had little debt. There was no Will, 2 life insurance policies and the bank was appointed administrator.
Asked on May 20, 2017 under Estate Planning, Kansas
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 5 years ago | Contributor
There are several possibilities: first, the petition of probate could easily have been wrong--they overestimated the value of assets, or even assumed she owned things that she did not. Second, there could be more debt than you thought, including (given your grandmother's likely age) a reverse mortgage and/or large unpaid medical bills. Third, the bills to any needed professionals (lawyers, accountants) and the administrator may be larger than you thought. These three factors, especially in combination, *could* result in the discrepancy you saw.
However, it is also possible something improper went on, such as an asset being sold for far below market value to a friend or associate of the the adminstrator.
If you are concerned, as you evidently are, you have the right to file an action or lawsuit for an "accounting" in chancery court (a part or division of county court). In that action, the adminstrator will be forced to "account" for, or justify and back-up, what was done with the estate and its value. For the amount of money you feel is at stake (a bit over $300,000), you would be well advised to hire a probate attorey to help you.