Marshfield, MA asked in Probate and Real Estate Law for Massachusetts

Q: Is it possible to file a claim on an estate prior to the individual passing to force it into probate?

The individual is elderly. One of her step grandsons 'befriended' her and convinced her to sign over power of attorney and in doing so had her sign multiple documents and she had no idea what she was signing (although she has all her faculties). During an application process for assisted living she learned her assets were all transferred to this non-blood relative and bonds were cashed in that she held in a safe deposit box. They have no money to litigate. Is it possible for the family to file a claim against her estate prior to her passing so NO assets get officially transferred until the courts review and the family has the opportunity to present the case?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Crossville, TN

A: It is not possible to probate an estate in advance of the individual passing, but there are other remedies for this situation. First, you can get a trusted person appointed as guardian and conservator. The order should also specifically revoke that power of attorney. Second, you can file a police report against the bad grandson for theft/conversion of the stolen assets. Third, you can hire a civil litigation attorney to sue for the return of the stolen assets. Fourth (and foremost), you can and should report the theft/conversion of her assets to you local adult protective services office. They have multiple resources and can help guide you. This is, unfortunately, a common situation for them.

Lillian J. LaRosa
Lillian J. LaRosa
Answered
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Woburn, MA
  • Licensed in Massachusetts

A: It sounds like Elder Services should be contacted concerning financial abuse. There is a potential Equity action against the malfeasor to rescind the transfers and for return of funds and accounting for the use of funds. The elder person who is competent enough to terminate the former power of attorney can authorize this litigation.

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