My dad passed away six weeks ago. He has no will (that can be found). My aunt stated that my father had asked her and her husband to take care of his finances, etc.,; when asked if they had been given a specific title, like POA, they said no. They have extended their right to take care of his finances to orchestrating the removal of his personal belongings from his apt, and taking personal items.
I agree with my colleagues, but I suspect there is more going on here, than meets the eye. The only way that your aunt would have authority to do anything, at this point, is if your dad named her as beneficiary on his assets or a joint owner. Upon his death, everything then became HERS. Your argument, if she refuses to follow through would be to argue that it was set up in "constructive trust" for you. Without any compelling evidence of that, however, you would have a very weak position in court.
If there were assets that were in your dad's name alone (and with no beneficiary named), those will need to be probated. NO one can legally do anything with such items, unless and until probate has been started.
My concern is that if you take too strong a position, your aunt will decide that your dad would not want you to have anything. For this reason, I would tread carefully. I see no reason why you cannot talk to her about personal items, however.
***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!
Once a person has passed away, any power of attorney has no effect. If you are concerned about your father's property will be handled, you can open up a probate estate in the county where he passed assuming it was in Michigan. You should consult a probate attorney to further assist you as it appears there may be a contest.
Tara Nichol is licensed only in the State of Michigan. All answers provided relate only to Michigan law and are made for general information purposes ONLY. They are NOT intended to be legal advice and are NOT intended to create an attorney-client relationship between Ms. Nichol and any readers or subscribers to avvo.com. Tara Nichol Managing Attorney at Nichol & Doering, PLLC East Lansing, MI (517) 583-0520 **FREE 1 HOUR CONSULTATIONS.**
Once a person passes away any authority under a power of attorney is terminated automatically. It seems here that they are taking items with no authority to do so. The approach you can take it so file a Petition in the Probate Court to be named as the Personal Representative/Executor of his estate and then you will have control and authority to manage his items as per the statutes that control distribution if no will is present. If there are already family in-fighting, as it appears, you may wish to seek the counsel of an attorney to make the filing and conduct a little more smooth.
Please mark this answer as "Best" or "Helpful" if it is to you. This answer does not create an attorney/client relationship and you cannot presume that I am your lawyer or that my advice can be relied upon in any way other than for information only. You will not become my client unless and until you sign and return a retainer agreement and it is signed by me as accepted.
If there truly is no Will, and your father did not own property jointly with your aunt, or designate her as beneficiary (for instance, of a bank account), then she has no business, whatsoever, removing his personal property.
You, as your father's child, would have priority over her, your father's sister, with regard to all of his belongings and assets. I would see a probate attorney immediately.
Best of luck to you,
John J. Keenan
This response applies to Michigan law only. This initial response to your question(s) is for general purposes, only, and is based upon the limited information you have provided. Therefore, this general answer should not be relied upon as a reason for your action or inaction. This response does not establish an attorney-client relationship; such a relationship may only be established by the signing of a written retainer agreement, and the payment of the agreed upon retainer. Please call me, or another attorney of your choice, with more details, and for an appointment to discuss same. Thank you for this opportunity to address your question(s).
I STRONGLY recommend that you consult with a probate lawyer about your situation. You, or one of your sibs is the most likely person the court will appoint to handle everything regarding your father's estate, including finances, personal belongings, tangible and intangible personal property.
The estate could require your aunt and her husband to account for all the funds they administered during the time they were informally acting as if they had a power of attorney over your father's finances.
I am licensed to practice law in Michigan and Virginia and regularly handle cases of this sort. My answering your question does not establish an attorney-client relationship. You should consult a lawyer so you can tell the lawyer the entire situation and get legal advice that is precisely tailored to your case.
Our Rating is calculated using information the lawyer has included on their profile in addition to the information we collect from state bar associations and other organizations that license legal professionals. Attorneys who claim their profiles and provide Avvo with more information tend to have a higher rating than those who do not.
Years licensed, work experience, education
Peer endorsements, associations, awards
Publications, speaking engagements