How to determine just how an estate should be distributed?

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How to determine just how an estate should be distributed?

My father-in-law passed away last month. There are 22 adult sons living. The deceased has a living sister who lives out of state. She claims she was appointed executor of the estate. She has a handwritten letter signed by my father-in-law with a complete inventory list of his belongings. The boys have already split up the belongings amongst each other, agreeing that was the right thing to do. His Will is now gone and no one seems to know if it was changed or not but it stated that the eldest son was to be the executor and most of the inheritance left to him. The sister now is claiming everything was left to her and wants everything returned to her.

Asked on December 2, 2012 under Estate Planning, Washington

Answers:

Victor Waid / Law Office of Victor Waid

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

 The estate will be divided 22 ways to the adult children, which seems to have already occured as stated in your facts. A hand written letter does not make a will nor constitute an appointment as executor. Tell the sister she has no claim on the estate, and has no authority to divide an estate if there is anything left to divide. If she does not like the answer, she can file a petition to administer the estate; she needs know she will be liable for all fees and costs if she proceeds and there is nothing to administer.


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