Durham, NC asked in Estate Planning, Civil Litigation and Probate for North Carolina

Q: Can an executor have a deceased person's vehicle towed from someone else's property?

My father passed away and I am his executor and sole heir; my siblings were not granted anything in his will. He died at home, and the police gave his keys to my brother who lives next door. Immediately afterwards, my brother took my dad's truck and put it on his own property. The police wouldn't intervene as they said it was a civil matter, and my sister-in-law told police my brother and I had an agreement he could drive the truck (which was a lie). I had already filed estate paperwork with the court and had letters testamentary to act on my father's behalf. The police suggested I put the truck in my name, and then they would intervene when I was ready to remove it from my brother's property. My brother has said he wanted the truck (never said "buy"), and I made him offers on it, but he never responded. Is there any recourse without putting the truck in my name before getting it back?

1 Lawyer Answer
Angela L. Haas
Angela L. Haas
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Licensed in North Carolina

A: The police won't get involved, as they do not want to be in the middle of interpreting civil documents, unless that civil document is a Court Order. As executor, you have a duty to collect all property and then distribute it. If he won't return the property, or buy it for a fair market value, then you could set a hearing with the clerk, requesting an Order for the return of the property to the estate. If you have an attorney, your brother could be liable for your attorneys' fees and/or your Executor fees for having to pursue the matter before the Clerk. Let your brother know that he may be found liable and have to pay money to end up with nothing, or he can buy it at FMV, or he can just return it. It may be beneficial for a letter to come from an attorney stating just that. Good luck!

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