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  1. #1
    orlieleaf is offline Junior Member orlieleaf is on a distinguished road
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    Taking things without permission

    My sister removed expensive items from my deceased mother's home. She emailed the other sibling that she was taking the items to sell. The other 3 sibling who also have shares in the home, were not asked if she could do this, nor gave their permission . We have asked her to return said items and she has not complied. Is she breaking the law?

  2. #2
    retdetsgt's Avatar
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    Not really. This is a civil matter between her and the other siblings. As a child of the deceased, she has some right to the estate, how much is a family matter.
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  3. #3
    Joeyd6's Avatar
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    Whoever the Executor is needs to do their job. That includes a formal demand for the property, notifying probate and if necessary suing on behalf of the estate.
    -In God we trust. All others, put your hands on the car and don't move.

  4. #4
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    Joey is correct. It depends on if your mother died testate (with a will) or intestate (without a will). Either way there should have been an Executor assigned to her estate to determine who gets what. As the others have advised this is a civil matter. If your sister sells the items and a court deems that she was not entitled to them, then she can be held liable for the items (or the amount they're worth). She could be sued or the cost of those items could simply be taken out of whatever was left to her out of the estate.

  5. #5
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    Just to add to what the others have said and assuming the estate has not been settled, the Executor had a fiduciary (financial) responsibility to protect the assets of the estate for all those named in the will.

    In my state, the beneficiaries can hold the Executor personally liable for any losses to the estate resulting from the Executor failing to do their job, so doing nothing is not an option. The other beneficiaries of the estate can turn around and sue the Executor personally for the value of the items taken by the sister if no action is taken to recover them.

    In order to protect the assets of estate and him/her self from civil liability, the Executor needs to make your sister return the items or file a theft report with the police.

    As a side note, the law usually requires that estates be settled as quickly as reasonable. I know this can be hard if a family member is the Executor, but delays can cause the very problem you are facing to occur on a regular basis. In addition, in our down market, property can lose value over time causing even greater loss with a delayed sale.

    A close friend just went through this. She is the youngest of three sisters. The eldest sister was the Executor. She took four years to get around to selling the family house. During that time it lost over $125,000 in value and the two eldest sisters looted the property taking anything of value and leaving the house an empty shell. In the end, my friend wound up with $30,000 when should have received $200,000 if the estate had been handled properly and in a timely manner. She has since consulted legal counsel with an eye to suing the eldest sister/Executor.

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