conchetta_y

Probate Fraud

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I expect I'm too late as I suspect the statute of limitiations has expired. 10 year ago my mother died. The will provided the funds were to be divided equally amongst the 3 sibilings. One sibling was made executor and her son- in-law was the estate lawyer. At the time I asked my sister, the executor what happened to the $300,000 that my mother had in the bank. She said she spent it. Knowing my mother that wasn't true. Going over her will and probate documents recently, I find that my sister kept the $300,000 and all other proceeds from the estate. I found other less significant irregularities. Am I correct about the statute of limitations?

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I find it hard to believe that a court wouldn't question/challenge "probate documents" she filed that don't reflect equal distribution of X ... so I presume you're saying she reported that each other sibling got X when they did not. Given we have no idea where you are, I couldn't tell you whether any relevant SOLs you might use against your sister have run. You ought to discuss with a local attorney or local law enforcement. It's likely you cannot reopen the probate itself, but that doesn't mean all avenues are closed.

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What documented evidence do you have that will prove that sister kept the money for herself? And did she gain access to that money before your mother's death occurred or after the death? What state applies here?

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Was the will ever filed for probate at the county courthouse probate court? Did you or the other beneficiaries ever receive ANYTHING from the estate? Were you notified about the estate proceedings at the time probate was occurring? Why are you asking these questions now when you should have been asking them ten years ago?

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At the time I asked my sister, the executor what happened to the $300,000 that my mother had in the bank. She said she spent it.

"She spent it" -- "she" being your mother or your sister?

Going over her will and probate documents recently, I find that my sister kept the $300,000 and all other proceeds from the estate.

Any chance your sister was named as the pay-on-death beneficiary on the bank account? And why are you only now going over these documents?

Am I correct about the statute of limitations?

Almost certainly yes, but it will depend on the laws of the state where the estate was probated.

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I pulled all the probate documents including the will and codicil. What she did was was file her receipt of proceeds and left the amount of money blank. Mine and my brother show $10,000 each which is all we got. This distribution is in clear violation of the will. My mother gave us copies in advance which showed her concern. My next step if finding a lawyer who is an expert in probate fraud here in the State Of Washington. At the least, we can show her dishonesty. As for her son-in-law lawyer who handled the estate, he violated the code of ethics of the bar association. It may give you an idea of who I am, I was a fraud investigator for Treasury for 25+ years. Trust me, I was no slouch as the guys would testify.

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I gather you had no clue your sister would do such a thing, because given your background, it would seem you'd be more on top of what happened with probate. The problem here is that while you may have a criminal action on your hands, that doesn't mean the money isn't gone-gone and that a prosecutor would be willing to pursue (I'm thinking restitution). I think it's definitely too late to think about a successful reopening of an estate a decade later, but you don't say how long sister dragged out probate.

It may be that a firm, detailed nasty note from an attorney will inspire her to cough up or turn over what she ought to, but who knows.

And I'd put on a back burner any topic of an ethics complaint to a state bar (not bar association, but the entity that licenses the attorney to practice -- typically affiliated with state supreme court). You may google "attorney discipline Washington" to be pointed in the right direction. For now, I'd focus on the sister's doings.

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I'll ask again: Any chance your sister was named as the pay-on-death beneficiary on the bank account? And I agree with "Fallen" that someone seemingly fell asleep at the wheel when probate was happening.

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Is it possible that sister could have gotten power of attorney from your mother (before she died) that gave her authority to handle the mother's finances? Could she have used the POA to designate herself as beneficiary on the bank account (which might possibly be illegal in your state if they have laws against abuse of POA) or is it possible that your mother gave approval to designate sis (by your mother's choice) to be beneficiary of the bank account?

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