How does a child go about asking a court to order an audit of their mother’s estate?

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How does a child go about asking a court to order an audit of their mother’s estate?

My elderly mother is now in a dementia unit at an elder care facility. Up until about a month ago she was living in a mother in law type housing with her daughter. The daughter, my sister, has been mismanaging my mothers money for years and is now sending all of my mother’s furniture, etc. to an auction. How does one go about requesting an audit of the estate? There has been no civil contact

between family members for 5 years. It has also come to my attention that most of the valuable items have been given away without remuneration to the estate.

Asked on April 8, 2018 under Estate Planning, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

There is no "estate" if your mother is still alive: estates are created after a person passes away. It is just your mother's property. 
There is no obligation to compensate or remunerate an "estate" since there is no estate.
Anything you mother allowed your sister to do or sell or gave to her while your mother was mentally competent is legal and you can't do anything about it: a mentally competent may do what she wishes with her assets and is not obligated to be fair to all her children.
You say your mother is now in a dementia unit. Is she incompetent? When did she become incompetent? Did she give your sister a POA? Was your sister made joint accountholder on any accounts, or joint owner of any real estate? If you mother has been declared incompetent, was a legal guardian appointed--and if so, who? If not declared incompetent by the courts, should she be, and a guardian appointed, which guardian will have power over her property, affairs, finances, etc.? 
There are many questions involved, as you can see. There is no simple or single answer to what to do, since it depends on the answers to the above. If you are concerned that your sister has taken advantage of your mother while she is incompetent, consult with an elder law attorney to explore your options. Good luck.


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