I’m fighting with my mom’s executor. What can I do?

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Q. A step-sister was appointed as executor of my mother’s will. There are two homes involved, one in which the executor sister lives in and the executor’s other sister lives in the second house. I have been denied any access to anything other than a few photos that I must split with my only full sister. I can’t afford an attorney.

— Frustrated

A. You say you can’t afford an attorney, but for a battle over an estate, you’re probably going to need one.

Although you don’t clearly say so, we’re going to presume that you are an heir entitled to a portion of your mother’s estate.

“You state that you have been denied access but I am not sure if that means the will gives you a right to possession and/or ownership,” said Yale Hauptman, an estate planning attorney with Hauptman and Hauptman in Livingston. “An attorney can take a look at the will and tell you what rights you have.”

If you don’t have a copy of the will, the executor is required to provide one for you, Hauptman said. You can also get a copy from the surrogate’s office where the will was probated.

He said your rights and the appropriate action to take on your behalf all start with what the will states.

“The will might provide your step-sisters with the rights to live in the homes or it may provide them with ownership of the homes or it may simply provide that the estate is to be divided amongst the beneficiaries in certain percentages or dollar amounts,” he said.

So get that will, and get started.

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This story was originally published Sept. 19, 2019.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.