Skip to main content

In Florida an executor of an estate took all assets that were not financial assets such as stocks, bonds, CD's, cash etc.

Fort Myers, FL |

The "will" divided up all assets equally among the beneficiaries. There were no provisions for the executor to take any of the non financial assets, personal property. In fact the Deceased did have a few personnel items marked for others and this executor stated that if it was not in the "will" then the persons do not get the items. Yet, the executor stated that the Deceased said that the executor could have her jewelry worth several thousands of dollars and took other potentially valuable personnel items such as antiques, golf cart and furniture; all left out of the estate
The executor stated that since the deceased was her sister then all personal items were hers. The executor is one of 8 siblings, 5 of which are still living. Can this executor be criminally prosecuted for theft?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Please retain an experienced estate attorney in the decedent's jurisdiction to review this situation for you. Assuming the deceased sister acted outside the scope of the will, then the attorney should bring this to the attention of the fiduciary's counsel. If that does not rectify the situation, then he or she will take this matter into the local probate court. You'll have more success in the probate court, in my view, than trying to do something within the criminal justice system. Good luck to you.

    This information is presented as a public service. It should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor considered to be the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.


  2. I agree with Mr. Pankowski that you should hire counsel. However, the value of what she took may not be worth the expense of an attorney fixing the problem. I presume that is why you want a criminal prosecution.

    Of course you can report her. However, I believe you will discover that neither the police nor the State's attorney will be interested in prosecuting. They will instead devote the limited resources of their offices to chasing murders, rapists, and other violent criminals.

    If neither you nor your siblings waive your right to an accounting, you can object at the end of the case to the Final Accounting and the Petition for Discharge. If you can prove the PR did not follow the will, your attorney can recover your fees from the estate, those fees can be surcharged against her, she may be forced to pay her own attorney to defend herself at her own expense, her PR fee could be disallowed, and she could be forced to reimburse the estate for the value of what she took. She could also be removed as PR. However, you should always discuss a cost/benefit anaysis with your attorney. Litigation is much easier started than stopped..... Especially with irrational folks involved. If she is taking items of small value, she may very well be irrational. If you are hiring an attorney for many thousands of dollars to fix a thousand dollar issue, you may be an irrational person too! Sometimes, Judges are impatient with small issues and don't take them seriously or don't award fees to the person who is technically in the right. Whatever happens..... You have been warned. Don't blame your attorney for trying to help you!


  3. I agree that you should consider hiring an attorney to review your options. It is often the personal property disputes that cause the most problems. Your question is also confusing because stocks/bonds/CDs are financial assets. Did you mis-state your question?

    I do not think this is criminal but a court may be able to adjudicate a dispute as to the proper division of personal property - although it largely will be in the discretion of the executor under normal circumstances.

    This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is informational in nature only. This attorney may not be licensed in the jurisdiction which you have a question about so the answer could be only general in nature. Visit Steve Zelinger's website: http://www.stevenzelinger.com/

Wills and estates topics

Top tips from attorneys

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer

Browse all legal topics