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Father passed away. No power of attorney. 4 Brothers. Owns alot of land. What do I do now.

Framingham, MA |

My father has just passed unexpectedly. There is no power of attorney. He owns land in Florida and Massachusetts. I have four brothers. I need to start funeral arrangements and have no idea how to gain access to his accounts or information. I have a brother that might try to do this unfairly. Is there any information you can give me.

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Attorney answers 6


I am sorry for your loss. I know that this is a tough time to be facing these decisions.

You didn't mention if there is a will or not. If there is a will, it will state who your father wanted to manage his estate and how he wanted the estate divided up. Otherwise, the property will pass according to the law of intestacy to the next-of-kin. If your father died without a will and was unmarried at death, the estate will be divided equally among the children.

While you are not required to have an attorney, a good probate attorney will make this process much easier for you. I strongly suggest that you meet with a probate attorney as soon as possible -- especially if you think you have a sibling who will not manage things properly. There are a lot of moving parts which will need to be coordinated.

In the meantime, you may want to download my guide, What To Do When A Loved One Dies, from my website -- it will give you guidance about how to manage things during the first few weeks after your father's death.

Sasha Golden

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.

James P. Frederick

James P. Frederick


Good answer, as usual.


Sorry for your loss. You will need to start a probate process in the county/state your father was a resident. If this was Florida-I would be glad to assist you.
If your father had a will-it would appoint a Personal Representative which would approved by the court.
it is likely that a probate proceeding will be necessary in two states because of the real estate involved.

Attorney Joe Pippen

The answer given does not imply that an attorney-client relationship has been established and your best course of action is to have legal representation in this matter.


I guess we always have to say that you don't really need an attorney to help with probate, but that's just false modesty, I think.
In a case like this, where there are significant real estate assets in two states, where you've already identified a potential troublemaker, where there is no known estate plan in place, where you've never been down this road before.... brother, if you don't NEED an attorney, I don't know who does...
Fortunately, a good lawyer can really make things go much more smoothly than otherwise... probate is never a Swan Boat ride through the Public Gardens, but good counsel can make sure it's not a midnight stroll through Mission Hill, either.

This is not legal advice. I am not your lawyer. You are not my client. You cannot rely on my response to your question. My response to your question is probably worth exactly what you paid for it. You don't get to sue me for anything. If you'd like to sue me, well you have to hire me first. Here's how you can hire me! #1 Call: 1-888-463-2843 #2 Email: #3 See me on TV! - go to the Ask the Expert tab! #4 Listen to my radio show (2 full hours every week!) - go to the podcast section.


It would best to hire a lawyer. If you feel one or more of your brothers may act adversely to you, you may need to file a petition fior probate very quickly to get control over accounts and to manage the process in a fair and orderly way. Do not try to handle this yourself. Good luck.

Steve Coren

This answer does not consitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. The answer is based only on the facts presented. This answer is basd only on Massachusetts law.


I'm sorry to hear about your loss.

If your father had a will, it should be probated immediately. If there is no will, any one of the brothers may petition the court for administration of the estate. Once you are appointed as the personal representative of the estate, you will have the authority to deal with your father's accounts and property.

You really should retain counsel to represent and guide you through this process, especially because you will have your brothers looking over your shoulder to make sure things are done fairly and correctly. Feel free to contact our office to get started immediately.

Christopher Vaughn-Martel is a Massachusetts lawyer with the firm of Vaughn-Martel Law in Boston, Massachusetts. All answers are based on Massachusetts law and the limited facts presented by the questioner. All answers are provided to the general public for educational purposes only and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to a question. To schedule a consultation with a lawyer, and obtain advice and review of your specific legal issue, please call us today at 617-357-4898 or visit us at


I'm sorry for your loss. I'm sure the suddenness of your father's passing has thrown everyone. The power of attorney would not be effective even if your father had one. You need to check to see if your father had a will, and who was nominated as the personal representative (executor/PR) in the will. The first order is for someone to be appointed as the PR through court process (probate) whether your father had a will or not. The PR is the only person authorized to legally deal with your deceased father's assets Perhaps your father had a trust? Check to see how the land was owned. Was it just under his name? That's usually a good place to start.