Palm Harbor, FL asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Florida

Q: Who has the burden of proof when one beneficiary accuses another of stealing money from an elderly parent after death?

I was the full-time sole caregiver for my parent in hospice for almost 2 years. During that time, they said they wanted to move money from POD accounts (with 2 equal beneficiaries) into a joint account I shared with the parent. They said it wasn't fair that I was single-handedly saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in nursing home costs which would benefit the other beneficiary who was doing nothing to help, living and working where he wanted and earning an income (which I was not). Of course my parent did not tell the other person because it was none of their business and didn't want to upset them. Now that my parent is dead, the other beneficiary is accusing me of stealing the money without my parents permission or knowledge.

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1 Lawyer Answer
James Clifton
James Clifton
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Fayetteville, GA
  • Licensed in Florida

A: The burden of proof falls on the accusing party but they only have to prove that by a margin greater than 50%, in other words, that it was more likely than not that the funds were wrongfully taken. If there are no witnesses and no written communications memorializing your parent's desire to give you the money rather than you taking the money, it is going to be a lot of headache for both of you and the court. Schedule a free consultation to make sure you gather all of the evidence possible to support your position.

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