My sister put my inheritance in her name. What are my rights?


Q. My mother recently passed. She left a will, leaving everything to me and my sister, and my sister was named the executor. I’ve since learned that she put everything — the house, a timeshare and other accounts in her name. What are my legal rights?
— Beneficiary

A. This could be a messy situation, but you do have rights.

Beneficiaries under a last will and testament have rights and remedies under the law to ensure that the executor is adhering to his or her fiduciary duty and complying with the terms of the will.

When an executor refuses to disclose reasonable information to the beneficiaries regarding the estate and the status of the administration, or if the beneficiaries believe the executor has acted improperly, the beneficiaries should consult with an attorney who specializes in estate administration to explore their options, said Adam L. Sandler, an attorney with Einhorn. Barbarito, Frost & Botwinick in Denville.

“This may include bringing an action in court to compel the executor to file an accounting and/or an inventory and appraisement of the estate assets, or seek to remove the executor for breach of fiduciary duty,” he said.

Additionally, when an executor is in a position to wind up the estate and distribute the assets to the beneficiaries, prior to making distributions to the beneficiaries, the executor will typically ask each beneficiary for a release of all claims arising out of the executorship, as well as a waiver of a formal judicial accounting, Sandler said.

“If a beneficiary believes that the executor has acted improperly or if the executor refuses to disclose information about the estate, he or she should demand that the executor provide an accounting and then file an action with the court for an accounting if the executor refuses,” he said.

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This story was originally published on June 9, 2021. 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.