What can I do if my mother just passed and my younger sister is taking what she wants of the personal property and just gives me what she wants me to have?

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What can I do if my mother just passed and my younger sister is taking what she wants of the personal property and just gives me what she wants me to have?

Asked on December 28, 2016 under Estate Planning, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You can bring a legal action against her--that is, file a lawsuit--seeking a court order that she 1) cease doing this, 2) return anything she has taken, and 3) if she cannot physically return anything (e.g. she lost or sold it), that she pay its value into the estate. She can only take what she is given after probate, by the will (if there was one) or by the rules of intestate succession (if there was no will). Note that if there was no will and you are the only two children and there is no surviving spouse of your mother, the two of you will share equally in your mother's estate (the money and property she left behind). Among other things, this means that if the two of you cannot agree as to who gets which items, they'd have to be sold and the proceeds split. Unfortunately, a lawsuit is the only way to stop your sister from doing what she is doing; if you want to pursue that option, hire an attorney or, to do it yourself, contract the clerk's office for the court (e.g. the probate or surrogate's court) for instructions.


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