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But when I am the fiduciary one day, I will select the legal help with care--and if it drags its feet, I'll find legal help that won't.

A key point, and one too often forgotten. One hates to quote Ann Landers, but as she said, "Half the lawyers graduated in the bottom half of their class."

The estate administrator's duties are deceptively simple: marshall the assets, pay the bills, and distribute the loot to the heirs/legatees. At the first sign that something's going awry it's critical to refocus on these simple goals and get rid of the stumbling block.

The estate you describe sounds pretty complicated, but I take your point about suspected delays. If the estate was open more than a year the estate income tax implications should have been apparent to the administrator no later than 3 months 15 days after the close of its first tax year, so obviously someone who should have known better goofed.

I join you in your hope that it's years before you have to perform this service for your mother, and that the only thing anyone fights about is who has the fondest memories.

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