What to do about a relative who was not a beneficiary of my father’s estate but who has taken assets?

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What to do about a relative who was not a beneficiary of my father’s estate but who has taken assets?

I was the only beneficiary of my father’s estate because he never made a Will. The estate was in surrogates court until I turned 18. One of my aunts, my father’s sister collected a $35,000 check from from his pension. She also has the deeds to several burial sites that belonged to me. She has my father’s, plus 2 more free spots which my father’s employer purchased for him at the time of his passing. I recently contacted her in writing asking for the deeds to the burial sites and a copy of the check issued her and her lawyer replied sending my only copies of the check and of my father’s burial site. She didn’t send me the original deed and nothing about the other 2 sites. I want her to pay me back for everything she stole from me.

Asked on November 22, 2011 under Estate Planning, New York

Answers:

Sharon Siegel / Siegel & Siegel, P.C.

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I am a NY lawyer.  Do you have a court appointed guardian ad litem?  If so, you can start by contacting him or her.  Be aware that the court appointed guardian ad litem will charge legal fees to you, just like a regular lawyer.  You should consult a lawyer and have him or her review the will and its terms.  If your aunt has a lawyer, she will not be scared by you.  Unfortunatley, you will need to hire a lawyer, if just to write a "lawyer's letter" to the lawyer for your aunt.  You should not wait becuaase if you want her to turn over money and the plots, you must do this while she still has it/ them.

www.siegelandsiegel.com

Sharon M. Siegel, Esq.

212-721-5300

 

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Sorry to hear about your father.

You can sue your aunt to recover the check and the deeds to the burial sites which she has wrongfully taken.  The remedy you should seek in your lawsuit is a constructive trust.  A constructive trust means that your aunt is wrongfully holding the items in question and is ordered to return them to you.  A constructive trust is an effective remedy because it imposes a trust with the only obligation being the return of the wrongfully taken items by the wrongdoer to the rightful owner.


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