What if the executor says there is nothing in my parents’ Wills?

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What if the executor says there is nothing in my parents’ Wills?

My mother passed away and she was in an assisted living. My sister is the executor and says there is nothing left in both my parents’ Wills. Do I still have a right to see their financial records, since I was named Wills? Also, my mother’s Social Security checks went into a joint checking account with my Sister, whom I feel took advantage of my mother’s monies and what she said we would get. Additionally, my sister is selling and giving away a lot of our mother’s

possessions.

Asked on July 2, 2018 under Estate Planning, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

As someone who would (based on what you write) inherit under the will, you have legal "standing" (a legal right) to bring a lawsuit against the estate and executor (your sister). This kind of lawsuit, commonly called one for an "accounting," is essentially one in which you ask the executor to "account for"--that is, justify--her actions as executor and provide documentation of what assets, money, etc. were in the estate and what happened with/to them. If you can show that your sister is doing any or all of 1) not following the terms of the will,  2) engaging in "self dealing" or benefiting herself at the expense of the beneficiaries in the will, and/or 3) being unreasonably careless (negligent) in how she is handling the estate, a court can potentially force her to pay money to the estate (e.g. repay funds she took but should not have), undo certain transaction (if possible), and/or replace her as executor. If you wish to explore this option, consult with a probate attorney.


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