What are my rights as an heir?

Asked about 6 years ago - Elk Grove, CA

The executor of my Great Aunt's estate is trying to put all my Aunts clothing in a consignment shop. My Great Aunt left her house and everything in it to four of us. I have said that I what to go through the house before anything is sold. Do I have that right? Is the executor allowed to sell stuff before allowing us to go through everything?

Attorney answers (5)

  1. Samuel Joseph Mamola

    Contributor Level 9

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    Answered . As stated earlier, it depends on the powers granted to the executor or trustee of the will or trust.

    I am not sure why an executor would insist upon selling or donating personal items of your aunt, without the beneficiaries' consent, especially when you have stated an interest in the items.

    As stated earlier, you could petition the court to stop the executor's actions, if they are improper, and if you think the items in question are of suitable value.

  2. Bruce Givner

    Pro

    Contributor Level 18

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    Answered . First, the answer depends upon what is written in the Will. Have you read it? Have you received a copy? Second, if the Will is silent, then the executor has discretion. Have you spoken to the executor and tried to reach a compromise? Third, if all else fails, and this is important enough to you, retain counsel and file a petition under Probate Code Section 17200 asking for a distribution in kind. The court will send the matter to mediation. The mediator will almost certainly ask the executor to let you have your pick of the personal property as long as the value of what you take doesn't exceed your pro rata share.

  3. Samuel Joseph Mamola

    Contributor Level 9

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    Answered . As stated earlier, it depends on the powers granted to the executor or trustee of the will or trust.

    I am not sure why an executor would insist upon selling or donating personal items of your aunt, without the beneficiaries' consent, especially when you have stated an interest in the items.

    As stated earlier, you could petition the court to stop the executor's actions, if they are improper, and if you think the items in question are of suitable value.

  4. Thomas Glenn Martin

    Pro

    Contributor Level 11

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    Answered . It depends on what the will says.

  5. Ruth Alane Mattson

    Contributor Level 8

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    Answered . The will might grant the executor of your Great Aunt's estate the authority to sell all of your Great Aunt's belongings. On the other hand, the will might say that all personal property should be distributed outright to you four beneficiaries. The will may say nothing about this issue or it might leave conflicting instructions. In Massachusetts, the executor should follow the instructions of the will as much as possible.

    When a will does not clearly define what to do with assets from an estate, often the distribution of assets from an estate is based on convenience as well as the beneficiaries' wishes. Anything you can do to make it more convenient for the executor to administer your Great Aunt's estate likely will help you to get the personal belongings you seek from the estate. You might try talking this out with the executor to see if you can work out an arrangement. If you find it impossible to communicate reasonably with the executor, you may consider hiring an attorney to represent your interests alone with respect to your Great Aunt's estate.

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