What can we do if an executor stole estate funds?

My wife’s brother, who lives in PA, was the executor of their deceased aunt’s estate. There was a trust which does not appear to have been probated. As one of the heirs, my wife was recently notified that she would be receiving a distribution of $45,000 from the estate. What she received instead was a check for $500, and a letter from her brother saying that he took the estate money, invested it in his daughters business, and that it is now all gone. His intent is to pay her back $500 a month, with no interest, until it is paid We can’t afford an attorney. What can we do on our own?

Asked on March 17, 2011 under Estate Planning, Florida


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for the loss of your Aunt and the situation that you are in.  An executor of an estate holds a fiduciary capacity over estate funds.  So taking them and using them for other than the intended use of the testator is a form of embezzlement.  If you can not afford an attorney then consider speaking with the District Attorney of County Prosecutor regarding filing white collar crime charges against him.  If they choose to prosecute then they can make restitution part of the sentence.  Otherwise, you have to sue him in court and prove the case (seems he admitted it in the letter but it would have to be evaluated as proof) then obtain a judgement that you would collect on.  Good luck to you.

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