What can I do when executor steals everything before the person passes?

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What can I do when executor steals everything before the person passes?

My sister and executor of my father, whose name was on all bank accounts, stole all of the money before my father passed so that there is nothing left for the other siblings. He passed away 2 years ago and none of us have heard anything from her about a will, any assets, nothing.

Asked on June 5, 2019 under Estate Planning, Maryland

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

If your father allowed her to do this, which he evidently did, since he did not, for example, press charges against her for theft, which he could have done, then there is most likely nothing you can do at this point: he had the right to give her or let her take his money, house, etc. while he was still alive, since anyone can give their possessions to anyone they want while they alive. That this mean that other siblings got nothing is irrelevant; a person can give all their assets to one person regardless of the effect on heirs or beneficiaries.
If you believe that he did not voluntarily let her take the money, assets, etc., but she truly did steal it and, for example, threaten him to keep him from taking any action (e.g. contacting the police), you *may* be able to take legal action agains her to recover it, but this will be a difficult and complex action: you will have to prove that it was not voluntary that he let her have the house and money, but if he was aware of what she was doing--which he evidently was--and allowed her to do it, it will be very hard to show theft. Even if he regreted or felt guilty about this, that doesn't matter if he voluntarily allowed it at the time.
Or potentially you can show that he was not mentally compentent when she did these things and so he could not consent to her actions, but that also will be hard: you will need medical testimony (e.g. from doctors who treated him at the time) to prove a lack of competence, and if you can't prove that, you will fail on this ground.
If you or any other siblings want to explore taking action, consult with an attorney who does probate or elder law, but be aware that his seeming acquiesence in her actions poses a significant problem for any legal case.


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