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Legal Jurisdiction

Discussion in 'Other Family Law Matters' started by Judith Crespo, Jul 30, 2020.

  1. Judith Crespo

    Judith Crespo Law Topic Starter New Member

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    My mother was living in her own apartment in a senior assisted living community in Florida. She fell and was moved out of her apartment into a more dependent facility on the same premises. My younger sister and I were her only children, her husband (our father) has been deceased for years. Because my sister was helping pay her bills, my mother named her as executor and trustee of her estate. Once my mother was moved into the assisted living unit, the Lodge, my sister and I were anxious to get into her apartment, find her legal papers, remove her valuables from the apartment and get rid of all her furniture.

    My mother and sister never discussed any legal matters and my sister did not know where my mother's papers were, who her attorney was or where her bank was located. I probably should have found out this information myself but did not.

    While my mother, who was 101 years old at the time, was at "the Lodge" the Corona virus was raging in Florida and the entire facility has been closed down to outsiders unless one self-quarantined. Therefore we were unable to gain access to mom's apartment.

    Meanwhile, on July 12th my mother died in her sleep. Incredibly on July 20th my sister, who lived in Virginia and was 45 years old suffered a brain hemorrhage and died.

    My sister's husband has taken over the task of getting my mother's papers together and deciding what to do with her property. My sister and I had discussed my mother's wishes and my sister told me she wanted to split the proceeds of my mother's estate four ways, between herself, me and my two children. I am not sure that my brother in law will do this. I am not sure that he has the authority to take over my sister's position as executor of my mother's estate and make decisions about her belongings or estate. He lives i Virginia, I live in New York.

    Can you please tell me what my position is (if any)?
  2. Disabled Vet

    Disabled Vet Well-Known Member

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    Unless he is named in her will he has no standing to do anything. I would suggest you hire a lawyer in that area quickly.
  3. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Estates have executors, but they don't have trustees. Does your use of the word "trustee" mean that your mother had a trust?

    Also, just because a will nominates a person to be executor does not make that person the executor. A person nominated in a will to serve as executor does not actually become the executor until and unless appointed by the court to serve in that capacity.

    By "her property," do you mean your sister or your mother? While your sister's husband might have legal authority to do this on behalf of your sister, he certainly does not on behalf of your mother.

    Things that were discussed verbally are irrelevant. If your mother had a will, then her estate should be distributed according to what the will says. If she didn't have a will, then it must be distributed as provided in the intestate succession laws of her state of residence at the time of her death. Given that your sister survived your mother by eight days, the most likely result under Florida's intestate law would be that you would get half of the estate after debts are paid, and your sister's estate would get the other half.

    Unless he gets appointed by the probate court in Florida to serve as executor of your mother's estate, he has no authority to decide this. If you're concerned, then you should seek to be appointed as executor.

    If your mother had a will that nominated your sister to be executor and she cannot do that, then the question is whether the will nominated a backup (e.g., you or your sister's husband). If it didn't, then anyone can apply to the court to be appointed.

    I'd suggest you contact a probate lawyer in the area where your mother lived in Florida.

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