This is really an estate administration question.
You have no authority to obtain medical records unless you are appointed the personal representative of the estate. Under these circumstances, you really don't want two administrators -- it's just begging for conflict.
If you believe that your sister is wasting a potential asset of the estate (its claim against the doctor) because of your sister's refusal to act, you should first send her a letter requesting that she either explain to you within a set period of time (say, 14 days) why she is not acting or that she steps aside as administrator of the estate. If that goes nowhere, you should consult with a probate attorney about the procedure for having her removed as the estate's administrator.
E. Alexandra "Sasha" Golden is a Massachusetts lawyer. All answers are based on Massachusetts law. All answers are for educational purposes and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to a question.
I am sorry for your loss.
I agree with Atty. Golden, if you believe that your older sister is acting inappropriately you should speak with an attorney and discuss her removal as opposed to having co-personal represenatives.
I wish you all the best.
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I believe it would be best to work through your sister, although I also believe there are alternatives to get the medical records, should she be blocking you from having them produced and reviewed. The first place to start is with a lawyer that will explore the facts and time limits with you to determine whether it is worth the battle. I realize that this sounds rather harsh, speaking of your sister and her tragic fight against this terrible disease; but medical malpractice cases are not easy, and many things must be considered before jumping in and spending all the money and time necessary to prosecute them. Seek the services of a lawyer very familiar with this type case in the area where the alleged malpractice occurred, or at least in the state it occurred. I hope you promptly and fully receive the satisfaction you are seeking.
I am very sorry to hear of your sister's loss to breast cancer.
May I ask whether she had a spouse and/or children?
Before attempting to have yourself appointed as an administrator, I suggest that you have an attorney contact your sister on your behalf to discuss the potential claim and the process involved.
She might agree to sign the necessary medical record release forms, or authorize the attorney to do so.
Please feel free to give me a call to discuss the situation at no charge. I have been handling medical malpractice cases for over 25 years, and would be happy to speak or meet with you regarding the potential claim.
Please note that malpractice cases require much preparation and time before being filed in court. Also, the statute of limitations requires that a lawsuit be filed by a certain date after which you lose your right to sue. (In Massachusetts, with limited exception, you have 3 years from the date of a doctor's or other provider's negligence within which to file suit).
A medical expert would have to be retained to write an opinion report in which he/she states that there was negligence resulting in your sister's death. This report would become part of your attorney's Offer of Proof to a Medical Malpractice Tribunal which is convened in every malpractice case in order to determine whether there is enough evidence of negligence to proceed with the case in court.
Best of luck with this.
Nothing in this email is to be construed as legal advice, or as a solicitation to create an attorney/client relationship.
Agree with the other answers. You need to consult an attorney and be ready to provide additional information. As noted by one of our colleagues, if the treatment occurred in Massachusetts (you did not indicate whether this is the situation or not) there is generally a 3 year Statute of Limitations from the time your mother knew or reasonably should have know that there was a potential claim. That "clock" probably began some time before her date of death and getting records/having them reviewed/ and deciding whether there is a valid case takes time even when a lawyer (as many of us do) has several medical experts available to help.
And if the Probate is in Massachusetts, the procedures changed earlier this year so, again, you really need to contact a lawyer.
These are general thoughts - they not intended as legal advice - so you need and should contact an Attorney for actual advice on this situation.
I generally agree with the others. In theory you can have two personal representatives, but that seemingly will not help you with the core of this issue. The key is to open the lines of communication the best you can, and as a last resort, involve the probate court.