If while itemizing my deceased mother’s estate I realized that some items were missing, so as executor what can I do?

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If while itemizing my deceased mother’s estate I realized that some items were missing, so as executor what can I do?

Someone, most likely a nephew that had been living in the house, and has taken a piece of furniture, 2 vintage bicycles, a vintage printer and some tools totalling approximately $700-$800. I had intended to sell some of these to help pay administration expenses for an estate that totals probably no more than $82,000.

Asked on December 5, 2011 under Estate Planning, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Taking property from an estate when one is not entitled to is theft. As an executor, you could bring a lawsuit on behalf of the estate against the nephew, seeking the return of the items (or monetary compensation equal to their cash value)--though since you would need an attorney to represent the estate (you can't represent it in court, unless you are a lawyer yourself), it may not be economically worthwhile to do this. You could also report the theft to the police, who may be able to recover the times it does turn out that the nephew stole them.


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