Greedy siblings can steal inheritance from their other siblings in a number of ways. Before their parents’ death, greedy siblings can convince their parents to give them the majority of the property or to change the will to give more to them, cutting off other siblings. After their parents’ death, most inheritance theft is committed either by a sibling, appointed as executor or administrator, who uses estate funds for personal purposes or by a sibling taking valuable property, such as an expensive painting or jewelry, prior to making estate inventory.
If you have an issue with an inheritance and greedy siblings, we at the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin are here for you. You can call us at 718-509-9774.
Greedy siblings obtaining inheritance prior to parents’ death
Before the parent dies, the greedy sibling can either convince the parent to transfer property to them already, to use their power of attorney to transfer property to them or their family, or to change the will to give less or to completely cut off another sibling.
Transferring property to greedy sibling before death
In the first case, property is transferred to the greedy sibling prior to the parents’ death and usually, without the knowledge of the other siblings. Usually, that “greedy” sibling is the one closest to the parent geographically or emotionally or the sibling taking care of the parent. When this happens, you have a remedy. It’s important to immediately consult with a trusts and estate lawyer like us so that you can enforce your rights immediately.
When property is transferred to the greedy sibling prior to the parent’s death, you can bring a lawsuit to annul the transfer. You can claim that the parents’ consent was vitiated, meaning the parents’ consent to transfer the property was defective because the greedy sibling acquired it with undue influence (among many other reasons).
Undue influence is one of the most popular reasons for invalidating a will or a transfer. Normally, to prove undue influence, you have to show motive, opportunity, and actual exercise of undue influence. Motive is easy to prove, especially when substantial property has already been transferred to the greedy sibling to the detriment of the other siblings. Opportunity is also easy to prove, especially when the greedy sibling is the one with the most access to the parent. The actual exercise is a little bit more complicated to prove because there is usually no witness in the actual exercise of undue influence. It normally happens when the parent and the greedy sibling are together in private. The actual exercise of undue influence, however, can be proven through circumstantial evidence. This includes a review of the parents’ medical records to show that the parent was in a weakened state, the reliance of the parent on the greedy sibling for most of the parent’s daily activities, and the fact that the greedy sibling was the one who obtained the services of the attorney who would prepare the deed and was the one who gave instructions to the lawyer on what provisions to write. An experienced trusts and estates lawyer like us can help you in filing a petition to annul a transfer made to a greedy sibling prior to your parents’ death.
Transferring property to the greedy sibling, his family, his business or friend using a power of attorney
When parents age, they usually execute a power of attorney when they still have capacity, appointing their child as attorney-in-fact to manage their property. When the parent has difficulty making bank withdrawals, managing his own property and affairs, paying the bills on time, or even doing the groceries, the child who was appointed attorney-in-fact steps in and manages the financial affairs of the parent. Usually, this child is the one closest to the parent in proximity.
The sibling who is appointed attorney-in-fact of the parent through a power of attorney is considered a fiduciary. As a fiduciary, the sibling owes duties of care, honesty, and loyalty towards the principal (who is the parent). This means that the sibling always has to act in the best interests of the parent. When a sibling uses the power of attorney to transfer the parents’ property to himself, his spouse, his child, his business, or his friend for a price less than market value, that greedy sibling may be considered self-dealing and acting with conflict of interest. It is important to immediately consult a trusts and estates lawyer like us because any transfer made under these circumstances can be considered void.
Convincing the parent to give less or cut off the other siblings in a will
When a greedy sibling convinces the parent to change the will or to create a will that gives less or cuts off other siblings in the will, you can claim that the greedy sibling exercised undue influence over your parent when drafting the will. You may contest the will because when the will is denied probate, your parents’ estate will be distributed in accordance with New York laws of intestacy. In intestacy, all children inherit from their parents in equal shares.
Usually, this greedy sibling who convinces the parent to cut off other siblings is the one closest in proximity to the parent. They may live together or near each other, while the other siblings live in other states, or sometimes, even in another country. This gives the greedy sibling many opportunities to convince the parent to write a will in the greedy sibling’s favor, without the knowledge of the other siblings. Sometimes, this greedy sibling is the one taking care of the parent without any compensation and because of this, he might feel that he is entitled to more of his parents’ estate than the other siblings.
Regardless of the reason why you may have been cut off from your parents’ will, you can contest the will on the ground that the parent wrote a provision in the will or the entire will under undue influence. As previously mentioned, undue influence requires a showing of motive, opportunity, and actual exercise of undue influence. When you are faced with this situation, it is important to immediately consult with a trusts and estates lawyer like us because there are specific time periods in which you must contest a will (usually on the return date of citation). For this reason, acting decisively and promptly is important. For more information, you can email us at email@example.com.
Inheritance theft after the parents’ death
Sometimes, a greedy sibling takes property from the estate after the parents’ death. This can occur in two ways: when a sibling takes valuable property from the parents’ house after the death but prior to making an inventory of the estate, or a sibling can be appointed as executor or administrator and thereafter uses estate funds for his own personal purposes.
Taking property from the estate prior to making an inventory
Sometimes, when a parent has died, a sibling who has access to the parent’s house can already take property from the house without anyone’s knowledge. It has happened in some instances that a parent’s engagement ring, valuable jewelry, or expensive art has gone missing from the house after his death. In this case, the executor or administrator can institute discovery or turnover proceedings to recovery property belonging to the estate. If the executor or administrator does not know where the property is, then the first part is usually instituted which is a discovery proceeding that allows the executor or administrator to inquire third parties about the whereabouts of estate property. When the executor or administrator knows where estate property is, then a turnover proceeding can be instituted to request the third person with possession to turn over the property. This will require the court to determine whether the estate indeed has title to the property and whether turn over of the property to the estate is proper.
Discovery and turn over proceedings are not only used to discover and turn over property taken after the death of the parent, but also prior to the death. For example, if a lot of money was given to one sibling prior to the parents’ death, the executor or administrator may institute a discovery and turn over proceedings to determine whether such money given to the sibling was considered a loan or a gift. In case you have questions in this matter, you can always consult a trusts and estate lawyer like us. You can send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sibling executor or administrator using estate funds for personal purposes
Sometimes, a sibling is appointed as executor or administrator of the estate. An executor or administrator is a fiduciary who owes duties of care, honesty, and loyalty to the estate and its beneficiaries. The fiduciary should always act in the estate’s and beneficiaries’ best interests. However, sometimes, a sibling might think that estate funds can be used for his own personal purposes. When a greedy sibling who is an executor or administrator withdraws money from the estate account and uses it for his own personal purpose, there is an improper appropriation of estate assets.
That greedy sibling can be removed as fiduciary and can be surcharged for the amount taken from the estate. You can compel the greedy sibling to account for estate funds and make your objections during the accounting. If that greedy sibling is trying to sell estate property to himself, his family member, or to a friend for an amount below market value, you can apply for a temporary restraining order to restrain the sale of property below market value. In all cases, the sibling can be made to pay for any damage that the estate might have incurred by reason of the greedy sibling-executor/administrator’s mismanagement.
Depending on the situation, there are several remedies one can pursue to prevent inheritance theft of greedy siblings. If you are faced with any of these situations, consult with a trusts and estates lawyer like us so we can give you advice on the remedies you may pursue to enforce and protect your rights. Should you need assistance, we at the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin are here for you. We have offices in New York, NY, Brooklyn, NY and Queens, NY. You can call us at 718-509-9774 or send us an email at email@example.com.