Distribution of inheritance

My father passed away a year ago. He
had a will naming my half sister as
personal representative of his estate.
She hires an attorney to take care of
everything . I was left in inheritance
and have not received what was
stated in the will and she’s saying that I
have to pay 3500 for a guardianship
that she is started before he passed
and not only that but a portion of his
final arrangements funeral home
tombstone things of that nature. I
believe that my father had life
insurance to take care of these. She is
trying to say that I have to pay for those
items out of my inheritance. My
question is do I have any legal
recourse to get the rest of my
inheritance that was stated in our
fathers will ?

Asked on May 27, 2016 under Estate Planning, Indiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, the beneficiary does not have to pay these expenses: the estate does, before it  is distributed to the beneficiaries. Example: say the estate is $100k and there are $10k of expenses and two equal beneficiaries. What your sister is incorrectly stating (UNLESS, that is, the will specifically says this--if the will directs the following to be done, the will needs to be followed, but only if the will does this) is that you basically divide the estate 50-50, to $50k/$50k for the two beneficiaries, then one of the beneficiaries (you) pays out $10k, so you get $40k, the other benficiary gets $50k. 
However, what really would be done, unless the will directs otherwise, is the estate pays $10k; then the remainng $90k is split 50-50, to $45k/$45k for the two beneficiaries.
If you believe your sister is not administering the estate or distributing the assets correctly, you could bring a legal action in chancery or surrogates court to force her to apportion the money and expenses differently. Of course, since you will have to pay for an attorney, unless you feel competent to do this on your own, it may not be worth doing this, since the legal costs will eat into the extra money you'd get and possibly make it not economically worthwhile.

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