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My sister has been named executor of my mothers will. I don't trust her to be completely honest. How much control does she have?

Petaluma, CA |

My mother just passed away leaving behind myself and two sisters all of whom live in Arizona and I in California. My mother named my oldest sister executor of her will, living trust, At the time of her death my sister had her name on my moms checking account and at least one credit card. Nine days after her death my two sisters entered her home and removed items, that were to be divided equally between all three of us, without my permission or ability to be there. Can they do that? Also my mother's wishes were that all monies in her checking and savings were to be divided between all three of us equally yet my older sister[the executor] is not being truthful about how much there is. What can I do to protect myself and my share when I live so far away. How do I go about protecting myself?

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Attorney answers 5


Hire an Arizona attorney to represent you and monitor the estate.

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.


You clearly do not trust your sisters; perhaps with good reason.

The only way to make sure the estate was properly probated and the assets disbursed ( to the extent the personal items can even be accounted for ) is to hire an attorney in the county the estate is being probated in.

The foregoing is for general information purposes and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.


Where did your mom pass away? Where does the sister live that is the trustee? Probate is the jurisdiction where your mom lived, trust jurisdiction is where the trust is administered, however, in California if the estate is administered here, you may be able to get jurisdiction over the trust.

You need to get accounts for any probate assets and the trust.

Again, need to know the jurisdictions to determine how you should proceed.

The general advice above does not constitute an attorney-client relationship: you haven't hired me or my firm or given me confidential information by posting on this public forum, and my answer on this public forum does not constitute attorney-client advice. IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: In order to comply with requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, 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.


There are a couple initial questions that need answering before any clarity can be provided on the subject. As an attorney licensed in both California and Arizona I can say that generally speaking, if there is a trust, your sisters as trustees are obligated to comply with the terms of the trust instrument when making distributions. If you are a beneficiary and do not have a copy of the trust, you are entitled to receive a copy. If your sisters are now trustees of the trust and they are violating the terms, you can petition the court to have them removed as trustees. You can also file a petition to clarify ambiguous terms or deal with other issues that may arise.

If there is no trust and only a will you are now dealing with probate. The probate will have to be properly administered by the executor/representative/administrator. It sounds as though your oldest sister is the executor who is now responsible for administering the estate. If you disagree with the way the estate is being administered and this is supported by actual evidence, you can bring an action in the probate to attempt to stop the improper administration.

Your specific situation is going to be controlled by the laws of the state with jurisdiction over the matter and the controlling documents (will, trust, etc.). To protect yourself you should consult with an attorney so that any necessary action can be taken immediately.

The above is general legal analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyze this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. The above response does not create an attorney/client relationship. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. See also terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here


It sounds as if your mother lived and passed away in Arizona and that the trust and/or probate administration will be governed by Arizona law and courts. That being said at this point in time whether that is correct or not you need to make sure that your interests as a beneficiary are being properly taken care of. That requires ensuring that your older sister is complying with her fiduciary duties. If you are not comfortable and do not trust her then you can retain an attorney that lives near you to make sure your interests are being looked out for and protected. However if this ends up needing to be litigated in Arizona you will need an attorney experienced in that jurisdiction either directly or through your local counsel to assist you.

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