What can I do if my aunt took money that my father set aside for me and used it for herself?

My 3 sisters and I, lost our father when we were young. He left us all money for college. My aunt (his sister) was put in charge of it until we were of age. It has been 3 years since I was supposed to have received it. The statements of the money stopped coming from her years and years ago. When we asked her about it, she said she had to take it out and “put it into property” (her house I’m assuming) because when the economy was down years it put a small dent in the money. She kept telling us that she had to wait to take it out until it grew more value. She even said she would give me $20,000 (probably just to shut us up) but according to the statements from 15 years ago, $20,000 is exactly what we started with. This amount has grown.

Asked on July 20, 2015 under Estate Planning, Arizona

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You and your three sisters can file a lawsuit against your aunt to recover the money.  Your remedy is to seek a constructive trust which means the court would order your aunt to return the money.  A constructive trust can be used to trace the funds to the property or other items your aunt purchased with the funds.  A lien can be placed on her house.  A lien is a debt that must be paid before her house can be sold.

Depending on the statute of limitations in your state, you may be able to file criminal charges  against your aunt for embezzlement.  The criminal case is separate from the civil case (lawsuit) discussed above.


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