Can the personal representative of a Will hold back proceeds to an heir?

I am the rightful heir of a small estate. We are 4 siblimgs with each having rights to 25% of the estate. The PR of the estate is my brother. He has withheld the proceeds of the sale of a piece of property because I owe him money. Can he do that?

Asked on July 7, 2016 under Estate Planning, Maine


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

A PR must distribute estate assest as dictated by state intestacy law. They cannot impose a personal motive for not paying out an inheritance. Accordingly, withholding your share of estate proceeds is legally inappropriate. This does not mean that you don't owe this person money but that is an issue to be settled outside of probate. The fact is that a benefciary has rights and yours have apparently been breached. You can file an action with the probate court regarding the PR's "breach of fiduciary duty". The court can then compel that you receive your rightful share of the estate and decide whether or not to remove this person as PR. You can also consult directly with a probate attorney for further advice.

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