What to do if my sister is attempting to pass herself off as my deceased father’s only child?

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What to do if my sister is attempting to pass herself off as my deceased father’s only child?

I just found out my dad passed last week in another state and my sister listed herself as the only child in the obituary and told the funeral home this. I don’t know if there is a Will but my understanding is that if there is no Will and only one child, no probate is needed. He had no spouse. I want the assets divided properly.

Asked on October 30, 2011 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

Sharon Siegel / Siegel & Siegel, P.C.

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I am a NY lawyer.  You must act quickly to stop this because if money is paid out to her it will cost  you more to recover them.   First, let me clarify some of the NY parts of the answer you were given.  In NY, we do not call it personal representatives, we call it executor (when someone dies with a will) and administrator (when someone dies without a will).  There  are other categories but this is the basic.  In order to be appointed as an administrator, your sister would have to be on notice and she would object.  Depending on the cou ty, which you did not state, it could be a long time before the matter is resolved.  Thus, while I think you should do it, I think you should hire a NY lawyer to write a letter to each financial institution stating that the proceeding is pending, holding them enclosing a death certificate, and holding them liuable for any money paid out.  You may also get thje banks to put a freeze on the accounts.  Have this donbe through a lawyer and do not tell her in advance. Sharon Siegel, Esq.

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss and for the situation as it has evolved.  I am assuming that you are writing from the state of California and that he passed in a different state, correct?  Was he a resident of that state?  Then the estate would pass by "intestacy" which is a law that sets forth how an estate is divided when the decedent had no Will.  Generally in your situation it is divided equally between you and your sister.  What you need to do is to file a probate proceeding in the county in which he resided at the time of his death and ask that the Court appoint you as the Personal Representative of his estate.  You may run in to trouble being out of state so I would consult with an attorney in the area to be sure.  Once appointed you would have the power to act accordingly.  Good luck.


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