My mother passed away Feb. 14, 2017. My father left approx. $1.5M in their shared bank account. Before my father passed, I was separated from my husband, so he signed over the house and everything in it. I had no assets of my own, as my husband was very close to filing for bankruptcy. My sister took my mother with her to MO. and was supposed to live with her. However, my mother moved into a nursing home, which admittedly, was for the best. Believing my mother was going to live in my sister’s home, I told my sister she could take what she liked. She took 2 moving vans of furniture, jewelry, etc., including some things which belonged to me. Within a week of his passing, my sister became my mother’s Power of Attorney, as well as the joint owner of her bank account.
After her passing, I asked for a copy of my mother’s will. My sister refused a number of times. She also stated that there was very little of my mother’s assets I would be receiving (She will send me a box of things my mother wished me to have. and 1/4 of her IRA – I don’t know its worth). She also asked that I not research my mother’s will, so I don’t know if it has ever been legally filed. Please advise.
ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS BELIVEAU:
The personal representative of a will has a fiduciary duty to file the will and open a probate. It appears that in this case probate was avoided because your sister became joint owner of the accounts.
You should consult with a Missouri attorney immediately. The actions of your sister can be construed as undue influence. She effective bypassed your mother’s wishes if your mother’s will left you an equal share. The longer you wait, the less likely you will recover your share of the inheritance.
Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice.
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