My father passed away and my sister, with whom I am not close at all, is the personal representative of his will. She and I are the only heirs and his only asset was his house that was paid for. She has spent a certain amount of money (undisclosed to me so far) in fixing it up to put on the market. I am concerned with how this will all play out for me. We are supposed to split the house 50/50 but now that she has spent so much in unnecessary renovations that, by the way, were performed by her brother-in-law that I am wondering if there is any way that she can get around the terms clearly stated in the will. We don't speak at all and I just want to make sure that she will not be able to pull the wool over my eyes and shut me out of the will completely.
I agree with Mr. Frederick. While I am not familiar specifically with the specifics of the probate process in your state, in most states the personal representative of an estate is required to file an account of all moneys spent and distributed by the estate before the estate can be closed. When your sister files the account for your father's estate, you will be able to determine how much your sister spent to fix up the house and to what extent these fix-up costs affected your final distribution. If you think that the amount spent to fix up the house was unnecessary or unreasonable, you should contact an attorney immediately so he can file objections to the account. The Probate Court will then schedule a hearing for the presentation of evidence by all parties. If the Court finds that the amounts spent by your sister were excessive and/or unnecessary, they will likely reduce her share of the estate by such amount. Good luck!
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Your sister is subject to fiduciary duties and is not allowed to simply run rampant over your rights. Hopefully, she is being advised by a probate attorney who can help her understand when she is approaching a line that she should not cross. You have recourse to the probate court if something is handled improperly. But you may need to hire your OWN probate attorney so you know the difference between simply administering the estate and trying to take liberties.
*** 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.