You should visit a local probate attorney and go over the details. You may be able to open a probate yourself and probate the assets. Then you can deal with the issue regarding the home and other property.
Matthew Johnson phone# 206.747.0313 is licensed in the State of Washington and performs bankruptcy, short sale negotiations, and estate planning in Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, King and Pierce counties. The response does not constitute specific legal advice, which would require a full inquiry by the attorney into the complete background of the facts and circumstances surrounding this matter; rather, it is intended to be general legal information based on the limited information provided by the inquirer; it This response also does not constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship, which can only be established after a conflict of interest evaluation is completed, your case is accepted, and a fee agreement is signed. Johnson Legal Group, PLLC
Very tough situation. Assuming you can prove all of the allegations, you could open an estate and file a petition with the court to compel a recovery of the assets that he misappropriated. Presumably, the other siblings will side with your brother and fight you on this. It will take a very good probate litigation lawyer to assist you and it is likely to be a long and expensive battle. You could win and then find that your brother has spent all the money and is not collectible. On the other hand, he may have very ample assets and you *may* be able to sue for exemplary damages. In Michigan, someone who converts estate assets can be liable for up to triple damages. If CA has a similar law, (assuming that is where the estate would be), then it could certainly be worth going after. Of course, your damages would apparently be 1/4 of the value of the estate, (since it appears it was split 3 ways and should have been 4).
I would review all of your facts and evidence with a probate litigator to determine whether it makes sense to go forward.
Best of luck to you!
*** 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.
Your situation sounds very serious. Forgery of a legal document such as a deed is considered a criminal offense in California under the Penal Code. Many Realtors, notaries, loan brokers, and other scam artists have gone to jail for such offenses in recent years due to the real estate housing boom and bust. If a handwriting experts determines the deed was forged, the sale by your oldest brother could be considered a fraudulent conveyance and the entire transaction may be undone. You should immediately consult with an attorney specializing in identity theft, real estate, and/or probate for advice. You may also wish to contact the property crimes division of your local district attorney's office for assistance as well.
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