Q: Four years after mom’s passing I got a copy of the will. The two heirlooms left for me in the will, my sister, the executor, claims were stolen by a third sister. The executor will not communicate with me, a named beneficiary. I assume this alleged theft must have been discovered after mom’s passing, otherwise would not the attorney have advised the executor to amend the will to reflect the unknown whereabouts of these things in order to protect the executor from financial liability? And would the lawyer not advise the executor of the will to file a police report of the alleged theft? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Your questions are valid but there is much missing information here. Like, why did you just notice this after four years? Was an estate opened when your mother died? Is that estate still open? Things will generally go less smoothly if this estate was opened and closed and you had not raised this question before. I would at least try to get an answer from the estate attorney. He or she should be willing to speak with you and answer your questions. If you have no luck, you have a couple options. If the estate is still open, you could wait until the estate attorney moves to close the estate. He or she can close by family agreement which means you would be required to sign off on it. Don’t sign until you get an explanation. If you don’t sign, the estate can only be closed formally, by First and Final Account. The attorney would then attempt to close the estate formally by presenting a First and Final Account to Orphan’s Court. It is called an “Audit”. You will be notified of the date, time and location of the Audit and be supplied a copy of the First and Final Account with the Notice. You can choose to appear at the Audit and convey your objections and or questions to the judge. Your other option is to hire an attorney now to attempt to get an answer for you now, and if necessary file a petition in Orphans Court if the estate Inventory does not show the heirlooms. If the estate closed, you may have a tough time getting back in to court to open this issue.