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Does the probate court have any jurisdiction over what happened before death?

Orlando, FL |

My brother (PR) did some shady things to our mother's house and finances before she died. I've tried, but can't get him charged criminally. 18 months later, we have a hearing about a lien he filed for estate expenses. I don't have counsel. Can I bring up his questionable pre-death deeds as reasons to have him removed as PR now? Does the probate court have jurisdiction over acts before Mom's death? Does he have to answer to the court for his pre-death deeds? Can't he just ignore the questions or plead the 5th?
FYI: There was a hearing (over a year ago) regarding his fitness as personal representative. With no felonies and a valid will naming him PR, the court overruled me. I don't want to pay him or his attorney for their services or costs. I think he should be in jail.

Attorney Answers 5


  1. Best answer

    I agree with my colleagues. I would simply add that probate proceedings are civil proceedings. Criminal matters are held elsewhere. Unless you can prove that your brother embezzled from the estate, it is very unlikely he would ever go to jail. Since you lost the prior proceeding, it is likely that the judge may already be disinclined to consider your complaints, this time around. The only way to change that is to retain an attorney. This will show the judge that you are serious about proceeding and it will give you the best possible chance of prevailing.

    James Frederick

    ***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ***************************************** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state. I hope you our answer helpful!


  2. Your biggest mistake is not having an attorney. There is not really much more to say.


  3. With something so complicated and so many twists and turns that can happen along the way, this is like trying to perform brain surgery on yourself. You need not just a probate attorney, but a litigation probate attorney.

    If this answer has helped you, please mark it as Best or Helpful Answer. This communication is intended as general information and not specific legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.


  4. Get an attorney for this. You simply cannot do it yourself, it is far too complicated.

    R. Jason de Groot, Esq., 386-337-8239


  5. The facts missing from question is what questionable deeds? Did you brother "steal" property from your mom? That is a bit separate from the removal. You need to take things one step at a time. Its sounds like you are trying to do too much at one time. Step by step. If your brother stole property from your mom, you should still be able to deal with that in the probate, but you need to do so immediately and the right way. Trying to do this yourself will probably wind up costing a lot more money and you chances of success are greatly diminished.

    The general advice above does not constitute an attorney-client relationship: you haven't hired me or my firm or given me confidential information by posting on this public forum, and my answer on this public forum does not constitute attorney-client advice. IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: In order to comply with requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. While I am licensed to practice in New York and California, I do not actively practice in New York. Regardless, nothing said should be deemed an opinion of law of any state. All readers need to do their own research or pay an attorney for a legal opinion if one is necessary or desired.

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