Imlay City, MI asked in Estate Planning for Michigan

Q: I was looking for clarification on how a last will and testament works and what an executor can actually do and not do.

My father recently passed in August. He had a total of 5 children including myself. He left one of my sisters as his executor. I have received a copy of his will but I do not really understand it. It seems very broad just states everything he has is to be equally divided between the 5 of us. Well I have not been informed of any thing as our family is not a healthy one and we do not speak with one another however a sibling got his car which was not discussed or disclosed to me is that just the executors sole responsibility to decide? Also the executor says she can not give me specifically anything as it’s her decision. I have not been disclosed any bank statements, she donated literally everything in his home with out notifying us. I would just like some info if possible

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3 Lawyer Answers
Trent Harris
Trent Harris
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Jackson, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: Generally, the executor has discretion to determine shares if the method of dividing the property isn't specified in the will. If you have concerns that your father's property is not being handled properly or fairly, you could file a petition for supervised administration with the probate court.

As always, you get what you pay for. Be sure to talk to a qualified attorney about your specific situation before choosing to rely on information you get from internet discussion boards such as this one.

Kenneth V Zichi agrees with this answer

Jammie Taire
Jammie Taire
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Lawrenceville, GA

A: I would first like to express my sympathy for the loss of your father. It seems that your grief has been compounded by the turmoil in the family. When a will has language like "everything equally between my children" it is rather broad in the language but does not necessarily mean that the executor gets to do what they want. Since the will leaves everything to the children equally, it would be my position that your sister would not necessarily have the authority to "get rid of" things in the estate without first discussing with you and your siblings as technically those things belong to the five of you. If you are concerned, I would strongly suggest you contact an attorney to discuss your options and possible intervention. The attorney would need to take a look at the will to determine what authority your sister was granted and what type of accounting is required.

**This advice is based on the laws of the State of Georgia.

Kenneth V Zichi
Kenneth V Zichi
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Howell, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: Mr Harris is correct you have options, but BEFORE you decide what you do, it is critical to discuss this with a local estate planning and probate attorney to insure you're not causing more problems than you are solving. Petitioning for supervision can be expensive and add a great deal of time to the process, and does not always lead to the desired results.

You don't say specifically, but was independent administration applied for and granted? IS your sibling appointed as Personal Representative by the Court? If so there should be an inventory following in a few months listing all the assets and answering many if not all of the questions you've asked. If that isn't happening, then it may make some sense to hire your own attorney to review things and provide some guidance on how to proceed.

Good luck!

-- This answer is offered for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney/client relationship.

I am licensed to practice in Michigan only. Please seek competent local legal help if you feel you need legal advice

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