What to do ifI think that my brother embezzled from my father’s estate?

My brother was executor of dad’s estate. He said it was 1.2 million. We only got $190,000. He won’t show me the bank statements, only any papers on how the money was spent. I think that he stole from my sister and I. Can I have the bank records subpoenaed? If he did steal, could he go to jail? Isn’t it my right to see those papers? Shouldn’t he answer my questions? He just ignores me, and won’t send me the information that I seek.

Asked on December 6, 2010 under Estate Planning, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you were a beneficiary of an estate and believe the estate was stolen from, you should retain an attorney to help you. You would have a right to see documentation, but, if the executor does not cooperate voluntarily, it will take a legal action, which gives you access to a variety of "discovery" tools (e.g. document requests, depositions, subpoenas, etc.) to seek evidence. A trusts and estates attorney would be the type the contact. In addition, if your brother did embezzle, not only he be  sued for the return of what he stole, but yes, it is possibly he could go to jail. Note that criminal prosecution may help you get justice, but usually doesn't get you the money back--for that, you need to bring a civil legal action.

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