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LegalGems, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 10484
Experience:  Private Practice; Elder Law Attorney; Estate Planning; Attorney Mentor
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My mom lived in Flowery Branch, GA. I have 5 siblings; 2

Customer Question

My mom lived in Flowery Branch, GA. I have 5 siblings; 2 sisters in CT, 1 brother and 2 sisters in GA. And I live in NC. In the summer of 2015, my youngest sister Michelle talked my mom into signing everything she owned over to Michelle. My mom ended up in the hospital 1 year ago. Adult Protective Services (APS) were contacted to investigate my sister Michelle. After 8 weeks, my mom was discharged to the care of my sister Michelle. ADS closed the case and my mom was dead 5 days later. apparently left $100 to myself and my other 4 siblings.
JA: What documents or supporting evidence do you have?
Customer: According to the will my mom left everything to Michelle with the exception of giving $100 to myself and my 4 other siblings. She left $1000 to each of her 8 grandchildren. My sister Kathy has 2 (adult) children, I have 2 (adult) children, my sister Christine has 2 (adult) children and my sister Michelle has 2 (minor) children. My sister Michelle hasn't paid any of us the money from the will. We would like to know what options we have to see that our children get the $1000 my mom wanted them to have.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: I have a copy of the probate court documents and a copy of the will. I do not believe the initials on the will were made by mom.
JA: Since laws vary from place to place, what state is this in?
Customer: I live in North Carolina. My mom, 2 sisters, brother and 1 niece and 3 nephews live in GA. My 2 older sisters live in Connecticut. Another niece lives in New Jersey and another nephew lives in New York.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  LegalGems replied 11 months ago.

Hello! I will be reviewing your question and posting a response momentarily; if you have any follow up questions please respond here. Thanks!

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I cannot access the message on my phone. Message says webpage is not available.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Thank you, ***** ***** seek advice elsewhere if I have to pay extra to switch to a phone call due to the webpage is not available.
Expert:  LegalGems replied 11 months ago.

I am very sorry to hear this. It is difficult to lose one parent, even more so when a sibling cannot be trusted to honor their wishes.

There are a couple of possible issues.
First, a personal representative/executor has a fiduciary duty to the estate. This means the people that are named in the will. A fiduciary duty means that the person in the fiduciary capacity owes a duty to the other person- and that the fiduciary must act in good faith, with the best intentions, to preserve any property that is at issue. Failure to act in this manner (essentially, a trust/guardian) is considered a "breach" and can result in:
1. removal of the fiduciary
2. sanctions (ie fines, award of attorney fees, etc)
3. damages (economic liability for the damages suffered by the party to whom the duty was owed)
So the heirs can sue the personal rep for the money currently owing, as set forth in the will. This can include attorney fees and court costs, as that will help restore the heirs to the position they would have been in had there been no breach. Often times a demand letter will suffice, as the fiduciary will not want to have to reimburse legal fees. The court can also remove the fiduciary.

Additionally, a will can be challenged- based on "undue influence". This is used when one person uses their position of trust to manipulate the elderly- to take advantage of their vulnerable state. If this is proven, the court will throw out the will and either enforce a prior will or distribute the estate to the next of kin (ie to all children equally). The idea of undue influence is that the person manipulated the elderly to do an estate plan that they normally would not do.

Lastly, if the signature is forged, then it can be challenged as a forged legal document. This can also result in criminal charges.

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Thank you and take care!

No attorney client relationship is created as this is general legal information, not advice; and a personal attorney should be hired if one wishes specific legal advice for their personal situation.

Expert:  LegalGems replied 11 months ago.

We cross posted so I just reviewed your response. I'm not currently set up for phone calls so hopefully the above suffices. Please let me know if you have any questions! If not, kindly rate positively!

Expert:  LegalGems replied 11 months ago.

Did you have further questions on the above? If so please let me know; otherwise if you feel I have earned a 5 star rating- it is most appreciated!