If my late mother left her estate to my sister, is it to late to go after my sister as trustee since she was aware of verbal promises regarding how the estate that was to be distributed?

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If my late mother left her estate to my sister, is it to late to go after my sister as trustee since she was aware of verbal promises regarding how the estate that was to be distributed?

My mother died 7 years ago; she left an estate worth 3.5 million. It is it too late to go after my sister since she was aware of promises that were made to the grandchildren and also knew that my mom had stolen 30K from me? Lastly, I just came across oil royalties that the state is holding because it never went through probate. I would like to claim them but I am totally confused.

Asked on July 31, 2014 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

It doesn't matter if your sister was aware of verbal (or oral) promises: such promises are not binding and the courts will not consider them. The estate will be distributed as per the written will, and a person who receives assets from the estate has no legal obligation to consider the decedent's oral promises. Your sister also has no liability to you for knowing that your mother had stolen from you; that is something you should have addressed with or against your mother while she was alive. As to the oil royalties: you may be able to recover these, though if you do, they will presumably go to whomever the will left everything to (your sister?), which may not help you. To look into whether you can recover these, consult with a trusts and estates attorney.


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