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Thomas McJD
Thomas McJD, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 6514
Experience:  Wills, Trusts, Probate & other Estate Matters
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My mom lived in Pensacola, Fl. for 20yrs.and passed away 18mos

Customer Question

My mom lived in Pensacola, Fl. for 20yrs.and passed away 18mos ago. She owns a condo in AZ which is paid off. In her will she left it solely to me. The executor, named to administer moms estate is my older sister. Sister DID NOT file the will w/Florida clerk of court, DID NOT open probate mom's estate, DID NOT open ancilliary admin to transfer the property/deed to me. She just handled & then took the money from moms bank accts ($65K+) and she sits at home in Wisc. just like nothing ever happened. I don't have money to pay an atty.so how can I make her administer mom's estate?
Submitted: 12 months ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Thomas McJD replied 12 months ago.
Hi Sir or Madam, I'm Thomas and will be happy to assist you. My goal is to make you a very satisfied customer! Thanks in advance for your patience.

If she never probated your mother's estate, how did she access the money in your mother's bank accounts? Was she a joint owner? Was she only an authorized signer?
Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Sister was mom's Durable Family Power of Attorney. In 2008 when mom did her will with her estate atty in Florida, she also made a living will & the DFPOA at the same time, naming my sister as the DFPOA. At that time, mom mailed a copy of living will & DFPOA to each of her 3 kids. I am the youngest of the 3, all in our 50's. Durable Family POA went into effect 4-5-12, when her Dr's determined she was no longer of "sound mind". Mom passed away 5 days later.Thank You in advance for your time, ms. l norris
Expert:  Thomas McJD replied 12 months ago.
You would need a probate in FL to sue your sister for taking the money. Of course, if you're not worried about trying to get any of that money back, then you would not worry about the FL probate. This, of course, assumes that the money taken was from accounts that were in FL. Your sister had no right to take the money under the power of attorney since any authority under that document ended on your mother's death.

You would also need a separate probate in AZ for the property there to which you're entitled.

In both cases, you would need to retain a local attorney to assist you with the probate process.

You, or any other heir/beneficiary of your mother's estate, can do this regardless of whether your sister is named as the executor. You can simply inform the court that she has failed to serve and ask that someone (you or another) be appointed as representative of your mother's estate in lieu of your sister.
Customer: replied 12 months ago.
First a couple of questions: 1) will any of your responses be state specific to Az or Florida law? (Where necessary) 2) I get that my sister had no right to take the money, my sister & brother were counting on me not having money to fight them on this. How can the state of
Florida allow this to happen to one of their beloved,elderly residents? According to Florida Rules & Statutes my sister has committed more than a dozen violations as a fiduciary & Personal Representative of which misappropriation of funds, mishandling of funds, changing a beneficiary are just a few. Why is she not being held accountable? Is she considered to "not have broken the law" according to Florida authorities if I don't retain a Fl. atty to point this out? 3) if I can PROVE that there is money at the end of this tunnel in more than1 way, and I have tons of proof in documents, bank stmts., emails,etc., what are my odds of finding someone to take this on a contingency basis?
My main goal is for charges to be brought against my brother & sister, to be held accountable for their actions, the motive for the money would be to obtain counsel. This is a very unusual case and it is not about millions or even tens of thousands of dollars, but more about respect, morals, integrity and carrying out one's final wishes.
Your advice so far is valued well over $30 but it is priceless to me.
ty, lisa norris.
Expert:  Thomas McJD replied 11 months ago.
Yes, the information I provided is pertinent to FL and AZ.

The state doesn't prosecute things that they don't know about. You could bring this to the attention of a district attorney and see if they are interested in brining criminal charges. If not, then it is simply a civil matter and unfortunately up to only you to try and do something about it.

The chances of an attorney taking this matter on a contingency basis are very small and not very likely because most attorneys won't take a contingency case unless there are hundreds of thousands of dollars and close-to 100% certainty of recovering that money.

Sorry I don't have better news for you on those fronts, but these matters rarely get resolved unless there is a whole bunch of money that entices an attorney to take the case on OR unless the district attorney is interested in pursuing criminal charges. Again, you would need to speak the DA's office to determine whether the office would be interested in bringing criminal charges.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.

ThomasMcJD, you've been patient, ty. With little to no money to work with against my sister & brother, my means to an has been directed towards getting someone in trouble. Meaning that if I could report somebody, implicate someone, the courts would be obligated to open this up, meaning the estate would eventually have to be settled. I've been looking for ways to do that. My mom had an estate atty in Fl. whom she also named in her will to settle the estate, nothing ever came of it...last I heard he just "quit" , walked away. Can he do that? Isn't he liable for reporting things? Completing things according to mom's estate? He held her original will, my sister got it, I don't know the particular's. Can he be reported to DA also.?

Expert:  Thomas McJD replied 11 months ago.
No, the attorney is not obligated to serve as executor or perform legal work without compensation and has no duty to notify the DAs office in an attempt to have criminal charges brought against someone.

Reporting your sister to the DA would be your best bet of having her face criminal charges but it will NOT result in a probate estate being opened. That is a separate matter unfortunately that just can't be done without a probate court action and attorneys do not take those cases on contingency unless the estate is worth a whole lot of money.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Good, reporting to the DA's office is new information for me to work with. Does the DA handle ONLY criminal acts? With as little as you know about my case, do you feel there may have been criminal acts committed? As far as the bank/account moving money, deleting beneficiary, etc.?
Expert:  Thomas McJD replied 11 months ago.
Based on what I know, I doubt there are criminal wrongdoings or that the DA's office would be interested in pursing those types of charges. However, you can always check with them to see.

Yes, the DA's office only handles criminal matters.

I would be grateful if you could please provide me with a positive rating for my assistance thus far. Thanks!
Thomas McJD, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 6514
Experience: Wills, Trusts, Probate & other Estate Matters
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