Can I sue my cousin for unauthorized actions after my mother’s death?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can I sue my cousin for unauthorized actions after my mother’s death?

I was in prison when my mother died. There was no Will, I am an only child and my mother never married. My cousin stepped in within days of my mom’s passing and started directing other family members to sell things off to pay for her funeral. I was completely reachable and my cousin knew wehere I was and yet never asked my permission. He had the money from the sale of these items sent to him and kept it. A friend of my mom’s paid for the funeral and I ended up having to reimburse her from the estate. My cousin used my incarceration. And vulnerability to con me out of things by isolating me and telling my other family that he was the only one allowed to have contact. He made statements that he was supposed to get everfything and tried. He gave away items he was not authorized to give away. Can I sue?

Asked on June 4, 2017 under Estate Planning, Florida


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Sorry to hear about your mother.
You can sue your cousin for conversion which is theft in a civil case.  Your remedy would be to seek a constructive trust against your cousin.  A constructive trust would require him to return the funds and other items he has stolen to your mother's estate.  The value of the items that have been sold or given away can be returned to your mother's estate.  A constructive trust can be used to trace  the stolen funds to items he has acquired.

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