Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Alabama

Q: Mom died without a Will. She has a home with a mortgage and a car.

Probate has been opened and I’m the personal representative. My sibling took my moms car without my knowledge and won’t bring it back so that it can be sold. What are my options? Can I go and get the car? Can I withhold any money distribution until it’s brought back?

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1 Lawyer Answer
James Blount Griffin
James Blount Griffin
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Madison, AL
  • Licensed in Alabama

A: That vehicle, if titled solely in the name of the decedent, is the estate's property. If you are personal representative, you are responsible to the estate, the court, the creditors, and the heirs to reclaim lost property. When there is no will, your duty to and supervision by the probate court intensifies, and you must play by the rules. Do you have a lawyer? If not, you need one if the estate's property was taken by one of the heirs.

Have you filed inventory? If so, did you report the existence and loss of the vehicle? If not, you need to discuss with your attorney the best way to report the loss, ask for a status conference or hearing, and, if necessary, serve legal process on your sibling to force him or her to show up in court and defend the taking of the vehicle.

Don't just hope this problem goes away by itself. Work with an experienced attorney and get this problem fixed.

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