Q: I need help on how to get my mother'ss property.
My stepsister was my mothers power of attorney when she was alive. she passed away on May 2nd. I have asked for a will several times, she doesn't respond. My mother didn't adopt her, and my mother has been divorced from her father for over 20 years. no probate has been filed. what do I do? I am sure she took all her money, and is still using her credit cards. She passed herself off as her natural daughter and no one questioned it. I have lots of questions, as my mother had dementia, and was in no condition in the first place to give power of attorney. I want to make sure that she is still not committing fraud, and I want all my mother's property and money. I don't even know my stepsisters address, or my mother's social security number. what can I do?
A: You describe a situation in which you believe "fraud" may have occurred and that possibly a person who acted in a fiduciary capacity may have taken advantage of your mother who was in a diminished capacity. As an heir at law of your mother, you have an interest in her estate and may file a petition to probate her estate. If no will exists, your mother's estate would pass under the laws of intestacy and would pass to you and any siblings you may have, or to the heirs at law of any predeceased siblings. If a will exists, the person who has possession of the will has six months from the date of death to come forward with the will and file it with the court. When an administrator is appointed, that person will have the power to demand that your step-sister provide an accounting of all activities she performed as a durable power of attorney for your mother. The administrator would also have the power to obtain records to try to piece together what happened with your mother's assets. If transfers took place while your mother had diminished capacity that improperly benefitted someone besides the proper beneficiaries of the estate, there may be procedures to seek to have such transfers declared void and of no effect. You are currently working with limited information. With the assistance of an attorney, you could begin proceedings to get answers to questions about the estate and ensure the assets are properly distributed.
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