Your parent always told you they wanted to leave an equal inheritance for you and your sibling. It was never much of a concern for you until after they died. Now, you can’t help but worry that your sibling’s behavior could impact your rights and the legacy your parent wanted to leave behind for you.
The sad truth is that the misconduct of one family member can absolutely impact the rights of other people in the family. What your sibling does now or has done in the past could impact your inheritance and your rights during probate proceedings. What are some of the things a sibling could do to unfairly profit from the estate of your shared parent?
They could abuse their position as executor
Some people will try to profit off of their role as the representative of someone’s estate. An executor has access to assets and could embezzle. They can also hire their own small business and overcharge the estates for personal profit. Your sibling has a fiduciary duty to the estate and should put everyone’s needs ahead of their own personal interest if they serve as executor.
They could have manipulated your parents into changing the plan
Sometimes, family members who know what they should inherit feel entitled to more. Especially if they serve as a caregiver or hold power of attorney during someone’s incapacitation, a family member could use their authority for personal gain.
They might pressure or trick your family member into changing their estate plan using fraud or undue influence. If you have reason to suspect such behavior, you may be able to challenge the will or at least the changes made to it that seem to unfairly benefit your sibling.
They could steal or hide property
The executor of your parent’s estate should secure and inventory the assets in the estate as soon as possible. Otherwise, family members might swoop in to take items that have significant value, like jewelry, fine art or technology. Your sibling, especially if they have access to your parent’s home, could take assets that should be part of the estate and get shared among all the beneficiaries of the estate.
Being able to identify signs of misconduct and help you better advocate for yourself during the probate process for your parent’s estate.