Dishonest executor of my mother's estate

I live in the state of California. My mother passed away six months ago. She named her bestfriend as executor. My mothers home is to be sold and my sister and I are the beneficiaries. My sister and I were to take whatever we wanted out of the house as gifts. We had access to her home for six weeks. We were told to make a list of whatever we took and we did. I asked the executor if I could move in. I plan on purchasing the home. I would pay rent and take care of the property and mom’s car. My sister agreed to it. Since I asked executor if I could move in she has locked us out. It’s been six months are we still haven’t been able to go through everything. The executor is always on vacation. The executor told us that our mom told her to keep us out of the house. When my mother was in icu she couldn’t talk. We don’t believe the executor that our mother said this. We were in shock when she told us this information. I think she made it up because she doesn’t want me to move in. She finally let us go in the house last week and left us there for three hours. Now if our mother told her to keep us out, why did she let us for six weeks and now she leaves us there for a few hours and now she doesn’t want a list of what we took as gifts. She also said whatever is left she is going to sell and give to hospice. She doesn’t even know what the will says. It says nothing about selling everything that is left and giving the money to hospice. One day she told us at her attorneys office. She hired our mothers attorney for probate that our mother had 200,000 in the bank. Now she tells us she can’t find it. She said our mothers safe deposit box was empty. My mother gave her a gift of $25,000 in her will and now she is going to charge the estate for what she is not doing. My mother’s car doesn’t start. The yards would be dead if I weren’t taking care of them. She is emotionally draining my sister and I with her controlling the estate in which she doesn’t even care about. My mother would be furious. She doesn’t live local. It’s all an inconvenience to her. I contacted a few attorneys and they say she can do all of this. I know she can lock us out legally, but lie to us. I know our mother didn’t say this. Why did she ignore my mothers wishes in the first place? Isn’t she supposed to do what she requests? Can I use the special notice form for probate court and ask to speak to the judge myself. She also didn’t pay the only bill my mother had. Her mastercard which was only $800.00 and they have filed a claim in probate. My mother’s home and car are paid off and with her assets that we know of are approximately $700,000. We also find it odd nothing in the safe deposit box when my mothers other friend told us she drove her to the bank several times to go to the safe deposit box. Any suggestions or advise?

What does the will say? If you do not have a copy, you can get one from the probate court where it was filed.

I don’t understand the getting “gifts” from the house. Does the will say you and your sister get anything? The will should say how her things are to be divided. Whether or not she can sell things is also dependent on what’s in the will. She will have to sell things if there are outstanding bills that need to be paid from the estate in excess of her cash. Bills get paid first. She can give funds to hospice only if that’s where it’s supposed to go per the will or, again, if there are outstanding bills.

It is proper for Mastercard to put a claim against the estate for its bill.

The executrix is entitled to payment or repayment for her time/trouble and, believe me, it’s time-consuming and trouble to probate an estate. That payment would be over and above any personal bequest from your mom. But she should not have gotten a penny of her bequest either, until all bills are paid.

It should be fairly simple to discover what was in your mom’s bank accounts on the date of her death by reviewing her bank statements. The safe deposit box - I don’t know how you’d find out what might have been in there at this point.

Sounds like you need information. The executrix must file specific forms with the probate court - like an inventory - by specific dates. Go to the probate court and talk to the people there. They know a lot and may be able to help you file the correct forms so that you can stay in the loop, and get copies of filed paperwork. If you have concerns about the executor, they can tell you your next step there, too. They do this stuff all day long.

N.B. I am a lawyer, but I am not your lawyer or anyone else’s lawyer. I am not licensed to practice in California. This is not legal advice. It’s just information and common sense advice from an anonymous message board on the Internet.

Advice? Get a lawyer. Now. The longer you wait, the more can disappear. and anonymous people on a posting board, even when those people are sometimes lawyers, aren’t responsible for acting in your best interest.

For what it’s worth, when my mother died and I was co-executor of her estate, we had to provide the attorney we hired with an accounting of all assets at the time of her death(including backup in the form of bank statements, etc), a list of all bills paid on her behalf, items sold and how the money was disbursed. So this executor should be required to do the same. She would be allowed to charge reasonable expenses for time and travel to the estate, but that should all be accounted for.

My condolences on the loss of your mother.


Similar situation with my dad’s estate. The ex-wife had a forged will he signed on his deathbed (he was so drugged he misspelled his own name. The judge appointed her executrix based on his final wishes :confused: and declared him intestate. She siphoned off as much as she could (stole his pension under the forged will) and then did nothing. After 3 years, he attorney is finally going to disolve the estate so anyday now my sister and I will get what little $ remains (not much) and the personal effects that have been in storage for 3 years (very important).

Long story short. Get an attorney that will wait to get paid when the estate is settled.

If your dad signed it, the will was not “forged.” She may have coerced him, but that’s a different legal premise. A will can be contested and if the executrix has defrauded the beneficiaries or the estate, can be held liable. Also, the probate judge could not have both declared your father intestate (no will) and named your stepmother executrix, etc. under a will. Either he had one or he didn’t. Pensions are generally non-probate assets (unless the beneficiary was his “estate”), and beneficiaries are specifically named. You sound about as confused as the OP. Did you get a lawyer to help you?

Right now, the OP needs information, not a lawyer yet. If she attacks the executrix, the executrix can use estate funds to defend herself which will deplete the estate for the beneficiaries. Right now she needs to arm herself with information. She sounds like she’s completely in the dark. The probate court employees can help her. Then she can decide whether or not to pursue legal remedies.

Just my two cents. And again, I am a lawyer, but I am not your lawyer or anyone else’s lawyer. I am not licensed to practice in California. This is not legal advice. It’s just information and common sense advice from an anonymous message board on the Internet.

Generally, our policy on this Board is to not get too deep into answering specific, real-life legal questions. You’ve gotten some good answers, and you need to take it from here. Closed.

samclem Moderator, General Questions