Estate disputes sometimes occur because two siblings simply do not agree on what their parent’s estate consists of. For example, perhaps your mother recently passed away. Your sister lived close to home and took care of her, while you mostly communicated by phone calls or short visits.
After your mother’s passing, you begin looking into what assets remain. Your sister claims there aren’t any assets left at all. You know that that can’t possibly be true, but you’re not sure what steps to take. What comes next?
Assets must be inventoried
One of the duties of an estate administrator – sometimes known as an estate executor – is to inventory the assets that remain. Debts also have to be inventoried to see if there are any outstanding debts that are still owed, which can then be paid out of the estate.
This inventory process can be done with or without your sister’s help, in this scenario. The estate administrator is the one who has the legal ability to complete this inventory, consider the wishes expressed in your mother’s will, and then distribute those assets to the people who are supposed to receive them.
You may be concerned that your sister is claiming there are no assets because she actually removed them from the estate for her own benefit. This is highly prohibited, as no one should ever remove assets from an estate before the administrator has taken inventory. People naturally feel a large sense of ownership for their parents’ assets and possessions, but the proper legal steps must be followed and this type of potential fraud is never allowed.
Working with a legal team
Unfortunately, if you believe that one of your siblings may be trying to act in a way that isn’t in accordance with a parent’s will or steal assets for themselves, the whole situation can get to be very complicated. It can be helpful to work with a legal team that understands estate administration and that can ensure that none of these important steps are skipped. In some cases, families will even have to go to court to ensure that assets are properly distributed. Adult children, such as your sister, do not have the legal ability to make these decisions on their own.