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What can I do if the executor is stealing from Mom’s estate?

On Behalf of | Jan 18, 2018 | Probate Litigation |

If you have reason to believe that the executor, or anyone else for that matter, is stealing from your mother’s Illinois estate, there is recourse under the state’s probate law.

Care-taker in life may have much control of finances

Sometimes, the situation arises where one child of a parent has the main responsibility and honor of helping that parent as she moves through her senior years and becomes less able to fully deal with her own affairs. That child may have power of attorney over financial aspect to ensure that the mother’s mortgage is up to date, that her Medicare supplement policy remains in force and that the electric bill remains paid up. That child may also help to get the parent to doctors’ appointments, church, and the grocery store as needed.

When an executor oversteps

If that person also later becomes Executor of the parent’s estate, he or she may be in the best place to be accurately aware of the estate assets. However, the executor also has much control over those assets. If the other beneficiaries to the estate, like yourself, have reason to suspect that the executor is hiding assets so he or she will not have to distribute them later under the will, court action may be necessary. Perhaps you believe the executor has already spent the known assets for his own needs or wants either before or after your mother’s passing. Action should likely ensue before the estate becomes depleted further.

Note that this issue can arise with executors unrelated to the deceased parent or one that was never a care-taker to the parent as well.

No self-dealing

Either way, an executor must protect that estate and not take the property for his or her own personal use or otherwise make it unavailable to the estate. The Illinois Probate Act, at section 755 ILCS 5/16-1, provides that you may petition the court to take action if you believe that the executor, or another, has concealed or taken estate property. This estate property could include any of the following:

  • Documents regarding any debt
  • Documents regarding any real estate titles
  • Documents concerning any accounts, such as bank accounts or retirement accounts
  • Personal property, such as jewelry

The court can order the executor to come forward and testify under oath about the issues at hand. It can also order the executor to produce documents regarding the estate assets and their respective value.