My step-family is stealing from my Mothers estate and getting in the way of my duties as her personal representative.

Asked about 5 years ago - Port Angeles, WA

My mother passed away one day before a divorce. Step father is trying to make me responsible for all debts and he won't give me the keys to the community building. My Grandmother's estate is/was in the building as well as my Mothers. I went be the building the other night (no one lives there) & witnessed step father and his sons stealing my Grandmothers estate (they have already taken all of my Mothers). I called the police, they came & said they could not do anything about it because the building is half owned by my step father & he said these were his things when they clearly were not and i hold the paper as executrix of my Mothers personal and community property. What are my rights?

Attorney answers (2)

  1. Michael John Gainer

    Contributor Level 14

    Answered . You need to have an attorney file a probate on your mother's estate if you are named in her will. Until the divorce was final, they were still married. Grandmother died, so who got her stuff? Mother? If so, it would be included in mother's estate and be her separate property. If there is a will, then mother's estate would have a claim for the value of the stuff taken and the estate would need to go after stepdad for value of stuff taken and half of community interest in assets. Estate, not you, would be responsible for any valid claims. Many creditors will settle for les than what is owed too. Forget talking to 2 different lawyers. Have the estate hire an attorney to probate your mother's estate. you can also go to courthouse and get sopies of any final orders in the divorce, if there were any. Sounds like you have a copy of her will. In the probate, you will be issued letters of administration which give you authority to act on behalf of the estate. Until then, you don't have authority to act. Once obtained, if stepdad took stuff he wasn't entitled to, you can report the theft. I'd hold off on that until you talk to a probate attorney though.

  2. Susan Denise Nattrass

    Contributor Level 6

    Answered . Your rights are governed by the documents naming you as executrix - you need to talke to two attorneys, first the one who drafted your mother's estate planning documents and second the attorney handling the divorce. I'm assuming they were legally separated before she passed and before the divorce was finalized, but the effect of her death on her estate and divorce will turn largely on the documents drafted by the attorneys working with her.

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