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Ask Dave

Taking Too Long

Debbie thinks her brother, who is executor of her mom's estate, is dragging his feet on taking it to probate court.

QUESTION: Debbie’s mom died in 2006 and it never went through probate. She had a will and wants to take the executor, her brother, to court. He cleaned out a couple of bank accounts and wants to get money loaned to him against the land she left. Dave tells her why that can’t happen, and digs deeper into why he’s behaving like this.

ANSWER: Nobody will loan him money on land when it’s in her name and hasn’t been probated. He doesn’t have clean title.

Why don’t you and your other siblings who are not happy about this get together with him as a group and ask him about this? I’ll tell you this; if you start suing people with whom you haven’t communicated, it’s going to cost you an arm and a leg. Nobody wins lawsuits but lawyers. Go that way only if you have to.

I would set aside a time where all of you could meet and talk about this. Don’t have a bunch of drama or heated discussions; this is a business transaction. Tell him it’s been too long for this will to have not been probated and you want to petition the court to have one of the other siblings assigned as executor of the estate. Tell him he’ll be treated fairly and get his fair share. If he’s stolen money, it will be taken out of his share of the estate. If he’s stolen more than his share, he’ll be required to repay it.

If he insists that he’ll do it, give him a deadline to apply the paperwork. If he doesn’t, then hire an attorney and force this into court. That’s when you get tough. But don’t just sue someone and have them ask where that came from. Have lots of clear, strong and firm communication, and then follow up on that.