My mother left an estate to my sister and I stating in her will that we are to split the contents 50% 50% with no other specific instructions about the contents of the house. My sister claims that our mother gave her certain items of high value, which is heresy. and she is presently removing items from the estate without permission or evidence to prove her claims. I live in California and the estate is in Arizona. In the will my mother stated that the house is mine and I am waiting for the title to be sent to me. I am trying to have my lawyer write a letter to my sister to stop her from taking anything she wants out of the house and claiming it as her own, but he is on vacation and so far I am getting very upset about this situation and feel helpless. Is this against the law?
Please Note: This Is Not Going Through Probate. It is a Trust.
Family Law Attorney
It would not be a proper transfer of property subject to a probate proceeding. Did someone file a petition in a court of law to probate your mother's estate?
Workers' Compensation Lawyer
It does sound like your sister may not be entitled to the property but a local Probate attorney that has access to all the facts would know best. If you attorney is not available, do they have someone in the office to cover for them that can make the demand?
DISCLAIMER: The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship or any right of confidentiality between you and the responding attorney. These responses are intended only to provide general information about perceived legal issues within the question. Each state has different laws, 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 is not a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in the subject area in your jurisdiction and who is familiar with your specific facts and all of the circumstances.
Elder Law Attorney
The estate must be opened in the probate or similar court in your mother's area that handles decedent estates. Whoever posses the Will needs to submit it to the court.
An appraiser should be obtained to inventory and assess the value of the contents of the home. It may be possible to get a court order against your sister from removing the contents pending administration of the estate. You should contact an attorney in Arizona who can handle this since that is where the estate is.
The information provided is general in nature and is not meant to be legal advice or counsel. It is not specific to any particular state and providing this information does not constitute legal representation or an attorney-client relationship.
Estate Planning Attorney
Your sister should not be removing property. Is there anyone else in your lawyer's office to write her a letter. She would be entitled to 1/2 of it, so what she is doing would not be considered against the law, especially if she is only taking her 1/2.