From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My mother died late last year a widow survived by my sister and me. Her will named me as executor and divided all assets equally between my sister and me. Right after the funeral, my sister drove to my mother’s house and took all the jewelry and refuses to return any of it. What can I do?
As executor, you have a few options. The right answer will depend on how much conflict you wish to have with your sister. (Although, conflict might be unavoidable at this point.)
First, you could have us file a Petition with the Orphans’ Court seeking an order for your sister to return the jewelry. This will result in a hearing where your sister must appear to explain herself.
We could also subtract the value of the jewelry from her share of the estate and you could increase the amount of cash you receive, which could avoid a court hearing—and is the best answer if you really don’t care about the jewelry, but do care that she received more value from the estate.
Either way, I suspect your sister will refuse to give you a release of liability, which means she could harass you in the future. We can talk about options, but a good one is for you to file a Formal Accounting with the Orphans’ Court. Depending on the facts, I might be able to combine a few of these ideas into one petition. I would need some more information from you in order to let you know the best option for you.
If you have any other questions about Pennsylvania Probate, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.