my father died in 2005 and left his property to 5 heirs,his children, one sister was the executor with power of attorney. She signed his house over to herself 1mo after his death without our permission or knowledge. We just found out about this.Several siblings live out of state but she has been living in the house. Three siblings want the house sold and receive our share of his estate. She will not put the house up for sale. What do we need to do to be able to sell the house.
State/Country relating to question: Virginia
sending a certified letter to her expressing our wishes.
Hello,Thank you for using JA. Did sister ever file a probate case to settle his estate?.And she signed over the house to herself after his death?.
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yes she settled the case and signed it over after his death
Ok, these comments are inconsistent: she settled the case and signed it over after his death.If she opened a probate case and there was a will that stated that the property was shared equally, then she couldn't have transferred it to herself and closed the probate case because the executor has a duty to comply with the terms of the will..If she signed the house over to herself after father's death using the POA, that is invalid because a POA expires on the grantor's death. So legally she couldn't have done it either with a POA or through the probate court..So was there actually a written will that father left?.Are you positive that a formal probate case was opened in the local probate court where he passed away?.Something is not adding up here....
Yes a case was opened and closed. He did have a will and she changed the tile of the house over to her. The house was paid for in full. She won't let us sell the house and since 3 of us are out of state it has been difficult dealing with her. She won't respond to us either by text. Or phone calls
Waiting for answer
Ok, then something improper was done here. The way probate works is the executor of the will files to open the case and submits the will to the court, pays any bills, files an inventory and then an accounting. They then have to distribute the assets according to the terms of the will and then sign off on a sworn statement saying they have done so..If the will stated that 5 people get the house, then she would have to get a deed prepared from the estate to all 5 people, not just to herself. When she signs off on the final paperwork to close the estate, she has to certify that she has complied with all the terms of the will before a judge will close the estate..If she transferred the house to herself alone, that is fraud and the remaining heirs would have the right to file suit against her for her actions. The statute of limitations is 2 years from discovery of the fraud so the heirs would be limited in their time to pursue this..So the heirs can contact sister and tell her that if she doesn't sell the house and distribute the proceeds, they will file civil and criminal charges for fraud for her actions..It does seem a little odd that it has taken 7 years for anyone to pursue this though....
she was allowed to live in the house under certain terms. One was to pay the taxes and the other was to keep up with the maintenance of the house. When I was checking on the taxes in april I found out she was behind on the taxes and she had taken in a tenant to pay for the bills. When I checked into it further that's when I discovered the title had been changed.A letter was then sent to her asking about the title of the house . She hasn' t respond since then
waiting on reply
I need to know what to do and how to do it. I do live in another state from her and it makes dealing with her very difficult
Ok, that still leaves the heirs recourse as filing suit against her for fraud unless everyone agreed to gift their interests to her when the estate was settled..With the house in her name solely, to anyone who looks, she appears to be the legal owner of the house. She could even sell the house and spend the proceeds if she is the sole owner on the deed..So botXXXXX XXXXXne is that if she won't voluntarily sell the house and divide the proceeds, then someone will have to file suit against her for fraud and breach of contract to get a judgment and force a sale..
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One more question. Can I file this through the probate court or will I have to get a lawyer
Typically something like this would be filed through the general civil courts because it is considered fraudulent and the statute of limitations in challenging the probate would have already run. Since you just discovered the fraud, the SOL has just started running..But yes, this is something you would definitely need a civil litigation attorney for because the lawsuit damages would far exceed the $5,000 statutory limit for small claims court. You can retain one attorney to represent all four of you as plaintiffs against sister as defendant..It may even be possible to scare sister into doing the right thing by having the attorney send her a letter stating that if she does not sell and distribute the proceeds, you will file civil suit as well as pursue criminal charges...Thanks Barrister
13 yrs estate law, real estate. Wills/Trusts/Probate
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