Can I obtain a court order to change a beneficiary of my deceased aunt’s estate?

UPDATED: Aug 25, 2011

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Can I obtain a court order to change a beneficiary of my deceased aunt’s estate?

My aunt passed away 2 years ago, leaving equal portions of her financial institution’s assets to my mother, my brother, and me. My brother never responded to my phone calls or letters and has not yet retrieved his portion, as one of the beneficiaries. Can I obtain a court order to remove him as beneficiary and split those assets with my mother, or give them to his children?

Asked on August 25, 2011 Michigan


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You will be unable to obtain a court order changing the beneficiary of your late aunt's estate removing your brother as one of the estate's beneficiaries. Under the laws of all states in this country, a will speaks at the death of the person signing the instrument.

Your aunt gave a gift to your brother. It is his for his use. Assuming he is dead, then his heirs under a will, or if no will, under your state's intestacy laws certain people would end up receiving his share of your aunt's estate.

The executor of the estate needs to make a concerted effort to locate this "lost brother" and make contact with him assuming he is alive advising him of the need to retrieve his share of the estate.

A private investigator may need to be retained to locate your brother's whereabouts if the estate's executor cannot make contact with him.

Good luck.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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