Philadelphia, PA asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Pennsylvania

Q: Both of my parent's recently died within 13 months of each other. They did not leave a Will.

Prior to their deaths, my youngest sister (among 5) took over handling all of their finances, at the request of my Mother, and became their power of attorney ("POA"), which I'm not sure was ever made official.

Following my Mother's most recent death, my sister ~ the POA, came to each of her siblings and asked us to print and sign a Renunciation letter, then have it notarized. She said that as a result, each of us would be receiving $5,000 from their remaining funds.

About a month later, she asked my older sister to tell the rest of us that there was a problem getting the remaining funds, and that we were probably not going to receive them after all. No explanation whatsoever.

The money is immaterial to me, but the lack of transparency at the expense of our blind faith in her intentions is eating away at me.

Is there any way to get to the bottom of this, and find out what she wouldn't tell us?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Crossville, TN

A: It sounds like a probate was opened by your sister. Probate is a kind of court case and the records are public. You can go to the courthouse nearest where your mother died and ask to look at the file. You will probably find answers in the file. If you do not understand what you are seeing, you might need to hire a probate attorney to help you.

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