What to do about theft from an estate?

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What to do about theft from an estate?

My mother passed 3 months ago. She left no Will but she did have a life insurance policy, 401k, car, bank account, and personal property. All together, without the life insurance, everything is worth approximately 20k. I am 1 of 4 siblings. I have obtained a small estate affidavit from the county. Our youngest sibling has stolen the money from our mom’s bank account, transferred her car title to her name and changed my mother’s life insurance beneficiary information from my other sister’s name to her own (then kept the money). Yes, we have proof. We want to sue. How do we proceed?

Asked on February 6, 2012 under Estate Planning, Delaware

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss and the problems. In your state were you appointed as the "voluntary administrator" of the estate?  Here is what I think may be the problem and it may be because of the procedural laws in the state.  Check to see if your appointment allows you to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the estate.  Generally speaking small estate proceedings - affidavits or summary proceedings - are used to avoid probate or shorten it.  Yours will be drawn out.  So you may need a full blown appointment here.  Good luck.


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