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When someone dies intestate (had dementia); can you contest the Probate Court's distribution to a sibling who rejected him?

Hamden, CT |

One sister was conservator and is now executor, but Probate CT said sibling who refused to help deceased in his care or even allow him into her home, must now share in his estate.

Attorney Answers 3


You said that your sister died intestate [no will]. However, you used the word "executor." An executor is someone who is appointed by will. The person who settles an intestate estate is called an "administrator." I'm not sure whether your sister had a will or not.

If she died intestate, then I agree with the prior answer. If she had a will, you would have the right to contest the will. Having the right to do it does not mean that you would be successful. Will contests are often uphill fights. You would have to basically prove that your sister's dementia resulted in her not having the capacity to make a will.

I hope that this helps.

Jeff Crown

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No, you cannot object on those grounds. If the decedent had cared about this, she could have left an estate plan that excluded him. She did not do so, so the court is not going to second guess her. The intestate statute applies rigidly to every situation without a Will and does not permit deviations. This is one of the reasons why every person who CAN do so, should affirmatively PLAN his or her estate, so as not to be forced into an intestate distribution he/she may not have wanted.

James Frederick

***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ***************************************** 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. I hope you our answer helpful!

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For the purposes of this answer, I will assume that you are correct that the brother who had dementia did not have a will and died intestate (there was some question of this in a previous answer).

The law of intestacy is a fall-back, one-size-fits-all estate plan that the state imposes when a person did not create his own estate plan. The fact that the sister is sharing in the estate presupposes that the brother who died did not have a spouse or children or living parents. That being the case, the law "guesses" that the decedent would want to leave his assets equally to his siblings, no matter what their history. Relying on the intestacy laws for your estate plan, therefore, often creates unjust results.

The fact that he had dementia is really insignificant in any distribution question. Since wills speak only at death, and many people are gravely ill or incompetent prior to their death, it's very often the case that someone is incompetent and in need of assistance prior to his or her death. Only if the will were signed *while* a person is incompetent is the dementia significant.

In either case (will or laws of intestatcy) a beneficiary may act indecently toward a decedent and not be penalized. However if the decedent were competent to make a new will, the beneficiary could be disinherited. Or, if that sibling did something to bring about the death of the decedent, there are avenues to challenge the distribution because of the wrongdoing.

**Disclaimer: Charles F. Basil is licensed in CT only. Any opinion given is based upon the general principles of law, but local laws may vary. This opinion is given for informational purposes only, and no attorney client relationship has been formed. Opinions on a website can not and should not supplant the advice of an attorney presented with all of the facts in your jurisdiction.**

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1 comment

James P. Frederick

James P. Frederick


Very well said, Charles. I like your "one size fits all" analogy. It is very accurate.

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