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Richard, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 55455
Experience:  29 years of experience practicing law, including tax and estate planning.
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My daughter's best friends', (both are deaf) mother just

Customer Question

My daughter's best friends', (both are deaf) mother just died last week.
Her brother will not let her see the will & changed the locks on the mothers'
house. My daughter & Rita have been best friends for thirty five years.
I know her mother would take care of her. What advice can you give us?
If any.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Richard replied 1 year ago.

Good afternoon. My name is ***** ***** I look forward to helping you.

If Rita's brother is in possession of the will, he needs to file the will with the probate court, usually within 30 days of the date of death. Once it is filed with the court, it becomes public record and can be obtained from the probate records. The will should name an executor who will then need to be officially appointed by the probate court as executor which will then give that person official authorization to administer the estate. Until that time, no one has any authority to do anything with Rita's mother's probate assets. If he doesn't produce the will and cause it to be filed within 30 days of the date of their mom's death, Rita can file her own petition with the court asking the court to order it produced and file. The court will then order Rit'a brother to produce it and if he does not, he will be held in contempt of court and be subject to civil and/or criminal sanctions. Even if he is named executor, the estate assets are not his personal piggy bank! Rather, the executor has a fiduciary duty to all beneficiaries to timely administer the estate specifically pursuant to the terms of the will, and to provide a copy of the full inventory of assets and periodic accounting of every dime in and out of the estate. Unless there is a particular situation complicating the administration, the administration of an estate would not take over 1 year to administrate and usually only 6-9 months. If the brother is named executor and fails to produce the inventory, periodic accounting, or fails to timely administer the estate specifically in accordance to the will, Rita can file a petition with the probate court to have him removed as the executor for breach of fiduciary duty. And, if an accounting, which the court will order if the executor has not provided one, shows there to be any misappropriation of estate assets or funds, she can also ask the court to award actual and punitive damages against him. In your situation, I would Rita put her brother on written notice by certified letter of the foregoing and let him know if he does not satisfy his fiduciary duty to all beneficiaries in the administration of the estate, including keeping her informed of the progress, she will be filing the petition with the court to have him removed and be asking the court to order an audit of the estate.

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