What can be done if the executor is taking upon my portion of an inheritance?

Our mother passed about 5 months ago. My sister and I are the beneficiaries of a house that my sister has lived in, rent and utility free, for 36 years. She had POA over my mother and did not consult with me on anything. The Will makes her executor. It states that we divide the assets in half. She wants to buy out my half of the house and claims there are no other assets. This is fine by me; I’m not greedy. However, she now wants me to pay half of mom’s care, even though she was getting all of mom’s to care for her and was still living rent free. She also wants me to pay for repairs to the house made over the years she and her husband lived there. She will not give me any probate info, she just tells me that it’s held up in probate. There are no liens on the property. I feel that since she has had the benefit of living in the house before death, after death, after I get my half, that she has no right to ask me to reimburse her for any of it. I also think that she owes me rent for the months she has been living in the house since mother’s death. She has threatened to sue. She will not let me see the appraisal on the house and wants me to take her word on its value. I need to find a way to get through to someone in probate so I can find out the truth.

Asked on December 15, 2018 under Estate Planning, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

Forget about what happened prior to your mother's death--while you may be morally or ethically right, from a legal perspective, it is irrelevant. Your mother had the right to let her her live there rent free and you have no right to compensation for that value your sister received.
However, after your mother's death, your sister, as executor, had obligations to follow the terms of the will, to treat all beneficiaries equally and fairly, and to not benefit herself, as executor, at the expense of the estate--so her living rent free after your mother's death and thereby taking for herself a benefit at that point which you are not getting may well be a breach of her "fiduciary duty" as executor. You could bring a legal action traditionally called one for an "accounting" to force her to "account for" her actions as executor. If a court finds that she has taken advantage and is putting herself (either as executor or as one of beneficiaries) ahead of other beneficiaries, the court has the power to order to do or not do certain things, to pay monies to the estate (e.g. the value of her rent), and/or to remove her executor. 
This is a complicated action to bring--you are strongly advised to retain a probate law attorney to help you.


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