Is it possible to take a sibling to Civil Court to request how my mothers estate was settled- There was supposed to be a nominal amount given to me - she passed 6 years ago and it has not been paid, I would like to spend as little as possible to find out how her will was handled by my brother-
4 Answers from Attorneys
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Before you start suing people, start with the estate file. Go to the court in the county/state where your mother's estate was probated (this is where she lived at the time of her death or owned real property). See if there is an estate file. If so, then it is a public record and can be accessed by anyone. Review the will, inventory and accounting. Were there any assets or enough assets in the estate to cover any claims? If not, then this may explain why you received nothing.
If there were enough assets to satisfy the claims/debts and you were a beneficiary as specified in the will, then I would find a probate attorney and pay the attorney to review the documents and apprise you as to whether the estate can be re-opened or any other action taken against the executor. After this much time, I am doubtful if you were given notice and had the chance to object (assuming that the estate was in Pennsylvania). Pay the attorney for the consult and review - that way you will know whether you can proceed or not. However, this is not a small claims case and depending on what the attorney says and how miuch you were to receive it may not be worth pursuing. The only way to find out though is by securing the estate file and allowing an attorney to review it.
Try checking with the Register of Wills office in the County where she resided. If an estate was opened, the Register's office will be able to give you information about the estate, including who the executor is. The executor is required to give notices to heirs, and to file reports with the Register's office.
You may certain ask the sibling who, from your question, seems to be handling the estate, for an accounting. If s/he is not forthcoming, you may go to court (Orphans' Court) to seek an accounting. You would probably need a lawyer to help you with that.
THIS RESPONSE IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE, SINCE I DO NOT HAVE ALL OF THE INFORMATION THAT WOULD BE REQUIRED, AND I DO NOT HAVE A REPRESENTATION AGREEMENT WITH YOU.
* If the answers to your question confirm that you have a valid issue or worthwhile claim, your next step should almost always be to establish a dialog with a lawyer who can provide specific advice to you. Contact a lawyer in your county or township.
* Another reason for contacting a lawyer is that it is often impossible to give a good answer in the Internet Q&A format without having more information. The unique circumstances of your situation and things that you may not have thought to mention in your question may completely change the answer. If you want to be sure that you have a complete answer to your question and an understanding of what that answer means, establish a connection with a lawyer who practices in the area of your concern.
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