What happens if one co-executor with a power of attorney emptied their parent’s bank account in anticipation of death?

My sister with power of attorney withdrew our mother’s savings the day before she died. The estate now has no cash to pay bills, but only the family home remains. My sister and I are co-executors of my mother’s will. What will the probate judge do?

Asked on July 29, 2010 under Estate Planning, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You should speak with an attorney. Depending on the exact circumstances and the nature of your sister's power, it is possible that she might be forced to return the money (and possibly other funds she's taken previously); it really does depend on the wording of the power of attorney, the circumstances under which she obtained it or it was given to her, etc. Assuming the amount of money was more than de minimis, you should consult with a trusts and estates lawyer who can evaluate the entire situation for you and advise you as to the possible rights, remedies, costs, and consequences. (For example: if brought to the probate court's attention, is there a chance your sister, if her action was improper, could be charged with a crime? And if so, are you prepared for that?)

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