The beneficiaries listed on the life insurance and 401K are entitled to those assets. If you believe the doctors or hospital caused issues, you need to assert those claims not do your own offset. You will open yourself up to liability. How much is in the other assets. If its more than $150K, probate is necessary. Regardless, because you indicate there could be bills, you would be wise to consult a probate attorney.
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Mr. Shultz has provided his customary outstanding response. I agree with him and would simply add that, if the other three assets were titled in your sister's name alone, with no beneficiaries named, then probate will be necessary, unless the total value is less than $150k. Family agreements do not eliminate the need for probate.
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First, if you believe you have a claim for medical malpractice, consult with an attorney practicing in that area. Whether the estate needs to be administered depends on the value of assets. Consult with a probate attorney for the best way to handle the estate.
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I would simply add that your "fair split" may require gift tax returns. You definitely need a probate attorney.
THESE COMMENTS ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE. They are provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided after consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. The answer to question does not create an attorney-client relationship or otherwise require further consultation. Mrs. Cook is licensed to practice law throughout the state of California with offices in San Diego County. She is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States, and is also licensed to practice before the United States Tax Court.
IRS CIRCULAR 230 DISCLOSURE: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, please be advised that any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used or relied upon, and cannot be used or relied upon, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code, or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein.