Suppose an estate executor never completes the job

Forty years ago, Adam was appointed executor of Mary’s estate. Mary was single with two sisters, one of whom was Adam’s mother. Mary died in the early 80s. We all assumed that Adam had distributed all of her estate. Both sisters have now died as well.

Adam is kind of a hoarder and has all sorts of crap in his apartment. Adam is now on his deathbed and is now incapable of doing anything. Adam’s siblings are going through his stuff. He still is receiving mail for a bank account of Mary. Then, we look through the state’s list of abandoned money and we find about a dozen accounts, uncashed checks, etc., that are owned by Mary. We estimate that Mary has about $20k in assets that have not been distributed.

Bill, Adam’s brother, has just been given a power-of-attorney for Adam. Can Bill use his power of attorney to collect all of Mary’s assets? Bill is also Adam’s executor, so what happens when Adam dies, which probably will happen this month.

I will bump this for you, but I feel fairly certain that the only viable answer is to consult a lawyer. I suppose if Adam was appointed executor by the court, the court can appoint another one to finish the job. That’s as far as my thought process takes me.

My only contribution is this: As strange as you may think this is, it has to have happened many times in the past. There’s likely to be a ready-made solution.

Depends on the local law, but all answers will be some variation on this; if Adam is unwilling or unable to complete the administration of the estate he can resign or be removed (by the probate court) and another administrator appointed to complete the job. If Adam dies local law may provide that his executor can also complete the unfinished administration of Mary’s estate, but this is not common. More probably, there is simply a vacancy, and application can be made to the probate court to appoint a new administrator of Mary’s estate.

As regards Adam’s own attorney, it’s possible that the terms of the power of attorney and/or the provisions of local laws dealing with the powers and functions of an appointed attorney would allow the attorney to carry on the administration of Mary’s estate on Adam’s behalf, but I think that would be unusual. Generally attorneys are appointed to deal with the appointor’s own affairs, but not to deal with the affairs of other people for which the appointor was responsible. If a new administrator is appointed to Mary’s estate, Adam’s attorney should co-operate with the new administrator as necessary, e.g. by handing over estate assets that are currently in Adam’s possession or control.