What are my rights if I’m not being given access to my late father’s things?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

What are my rights if I’m not being given access to my late father’s things?

My dad died last month. My older sister (adopted) and I (his first biological child) were named as executors of his Will. My adopted sister was living in the house when he died. I have been told that she has a legal right to reside there until the Will has been probated. Does that give her the right to go through his estate and keep things she thought were necessary and throw the rest of his things away? His wife preceded him in death and her children gave their rights away to her belongings to my dad and are going through her stuff also. I want to do things the legal way, and they are excluding me from going through his stuff and from coming to the house unannounced. What should I do? What are my rights?

Asked on June 11, 2015 under Estate Planning, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If there was a will, she must distribute his belongings as per the will. If there was no will, his assets will distributed as per "intestate succession," or the rules who gets what when there is no will--which will most likely, based on what you write, be split between the two of you as his children. In any event, she does not have the discretion to decide on her own what to keep and what to throw away, but must follow the will or the intestate succession rules. This is especially so since the two of you are executors--you both have equal access (which also means she can't exclude you from his belongings) and equal authority to make decisions.

(One caveat to the above: either executor can throw away obvious trash--clearly broken electronics or furniture, food, old newspapers, etc.)

From what you write, she may be acting improperly; you should speak in detail with an attorney who handles probate work, so see what your options are. You most likelly could bring a legal action seeking a court order directly her to stop doing what she's been doing and to actg as a proper executor would.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption