As co-executrix, how can I gain access to the family home now that the other co-executrix has changed the locks and refused to give me a key?

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As co-executrix, how can I gain access to the family home now that the other co-executrix has changed the locks and refused to give me a key?

I just returned from visiting the property in; I live out of state. On my last visit it was clear that a lot of the contents of the home were missing. I suspect they have been moved to the other co-executor’s (my sister’s) home. The estate attorney said that I need to prepare a list of the missing items. Fortunately I took photos of all the home’s contents a little over a year ago and was able to enter the home this time to retake all the photos. But I also discovered the new locks on all the entries and it was just dumb luck this time that I was able to gain access.

Asked on October 31, 2011 under Estate Planning, Pennsylvania

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You are, as I am sure that you know, in a very difficult position.  It is a delicate family one as well.  But if your sister is abusing her authority ("breaching" her duty it is called) as the co-fiduciary of the estate you may have no choice but to ask that the court remove her as co-executrix.  The you can request also that the court allow you to change the locks to prevent any further "dissipation" of estate assets.  The attorney for the estate may not want to get involved but you have the right to hire another attorney to help you.  The estate will pay for that.  Also be aware that the estate will pay her legal fees too, to a certain extent.  Good luck.    


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