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Maverick, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 6391
Experience:  20 years experience as a civil trial and appellate lawyer
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As my mother lay dying in the next Read more: http://www.justanswer.c

Customer Question

as my mother lay dying in the next room my brother and I decided to sell all belongings and split the money collected after her death in November 2013. He said we should both take a picture to remember them and I said OK. I took a nice picture that had no value. What I have since discovered is the Frida Kahlo picture that he took was valuable and looking on line might be worth anywhere from $30,000-$1,500,000. do I have any rights at this point to try and collect 1/2 it's value? (He is an art collector and is on the board of an art museum).
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Maverick replied 2 years ago.
Welcome. My name is Maverick. I very much enjoy what I do and I hope that you will benefit from the information or assistance that I provide.
At the link above you will find NJ's intestate laws starting at Sections 3B:5-1 to 3B:5-14.1. These laws come into play if mom died without a will. If you and your brother are the only two surviving siblings and mom died without a spouse, then, generally, you would inherit everything she owned and split it 50-50.
So, what you could do is now apply to be the administer of mom's estate as one of the closest surviving next of kin. The Administrator's responsibilities would include collecting the estate's assets, paying any of mom's outstanding debts and disbursing those remaining assets according to law. You are not required to hire an attorney. So check with the probate court in the county where mom passed for an application form to be an administrator.
This would be sort of a back door solution to now legally getting the picture back or getting the money from its sale so you can divide it 50-50 after paying off mom's debts.
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
My brother and I are executors. Has too much time passed to do anything now? Is it old news. I thought that since he had knowledge of the value and I did not - there might be a suit. also - I want to be sure that I did not just sign up for a monthly plan with your company but a one time question. thank you for your help
Expert:  Maverick replied 2 years ago.
I want to be sure that I did not just sign up for a monthly plan with your company but a one time question.
1. I am not privy to any information about this matter. I will ask JA to follow-up with you on this and confirm accordingly.
My brother and I are executors.
2. It sounds like then that you were both executors and both beneficiaries.
An executor has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of all the beneficiaries under the will. Branch v. White, 99 N.J. Super. 295, 306 (App. Div. 1968). The most fundamental duty owed by an executor to the beneficiaries is the duty of loyalty, see, e.g., Wolosoff v. C.S.I Liquidating Trust, 205 N.J. Super. 349 (App. Div. 1985), and the executor is obligated to deal impartially with all beneficiaries, In re Koretzky’s Estate, 8 N.J. 506, 530 (1951). An executor cannot use his/her position to further his/her own personal interests. Taylor, supra, 137 N.J. Eq. at 225-227.
So, based on the law above, yes, your brother would have had a duty to disclose what he knew about the value of the pictures to you.
Has too much time passed to do anything now? Is it old news.
The NJ limitations period appears to be 6 YEARS for a breach of fiduciary duty causing purely economic loss and is controlled by the substantive law governing the relationship (Balliet v. Fennell, 845 A.2d 168, 170, 172 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2004))
Expert:  Maverick replied 2 years ago.
Were you able to view the answer above and confirm with JA customer service that you are only making a one time deposit?

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