What can you do when a family member begins to take control of an estate? There are several options, and we will review some important ones in this post.
My name is Erik Broel & I am the founder & CEO of Georgia Probate Law Group. At our firm, we help families who have lost a loved one navigate the complex and confusing legal process so they can make sure the estate is handled properly and their loved one’s memory is honored. Everything discussed in this post is for general information and is not legal advice – for specific information about your situation, please go here to request a complimentary consultation with one of our inheritance lawyers.
Watching a family member begin to take control of an estate can be challenging. Whether it is taking personal property from the home, moving in, or trying to access bank accounts, these situations feel frustrating. But, what can you do?
The main problem is that no one has the authority to handle the estate’s property until they are appointed as executor or administrator by the Probate Court. So, until appointed, you do not have any more authority than your relative does. Given that, there are several options.
The first step is always to attempt communication. When doing so, it is important to remain calm. I know you will not feel calm, but allowing your frustration or anger to seep into the conversation has a tendency to escalate things instead of solving them.
If communication does not work, then you have some more formal options. One possibility is to open the estate yourself so that you become the Personal Representative. This is usually the best plan, but be aware that just becoming Personal Representative does not always solve the problem – other legal action may be necessary after you are appointed.
Finally, if the actions taken by your relative have harmed the estate, then you may be able to present a claim for mismanagement. Some of those claims carry penalties of double the amount of damage that was caused.
All of these strategies are complex and I do not recommend you try them on your own. Please call our office for help.
For more information about this and other probate topics, please go to GPLG.com/Handbook to download a complimentary copy of our Georgia. Probate Handbook. You’ll learn the key things that go wrong in an estate, how to prevent them, and what to do if they happen.
You also can reach out to our office at (770) 796-4582 to set up a consultation.
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