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john65pennington's avatar

Probate question. See inside.

Asked by john65pennington (29253points) January 27th, 2012

My aunt died and left a Revocable Trust of $20,000 dollars to my mother, who is also deceased. My cousin elected himself to be the Power of Attorney over my aunt. My aunt left no will. My cousin goes to the bank and withdraws the $20,000 out of the Revocable Trust. My cousin also had an estate sale and sold 80% of my aunt’s personal belongings. Her house will have to be probated in court.

Question: did my cousin have legal authority to withdraw the $20,000 dollars out of the Revocable Trust, which should have gone to my brother and I? And, will Probate Court require my cousin to collect her property he sold and the money he collected ? I feel that the bank and my cousin made an error, when the $20,000 dollars was withdrawn from the Revocable Trust. Should this money not also go into Probate Court? Help needed from any legal begales out there and do I need an attorney?

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14 Answers

marinelife's avatar

You need to get an attorney right away. It depends on the terms of the trust. How did your cousin access it? What were the terms if your mother was dead?

john65pennington's avatar

I have a certified copy of my mothers will. Both of my parents are dead. In her will, she left everything to my brother and I. I can only assume my cousin, as her Power of Attorney, locted the paperwork associated with the Revocable Trust. Earlier, he had made a statement to my aunt, “that if you do not have a will, everything will go to my mother(her sister). I feel that greed has played a part in his duty as her POA.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Yes you need an attorney. It would also help to have a recording, or some type of record that implicates your cousin taking the money out of the account, and holding the estate sale. My first question to him would be, “By what authority did you pursue these actions”?

Good luck John.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Be prepared for your cousin to present a more current update to your aunts RT. That could be the case.

CWOTUS's avatar

If your mother predeceased your aunt, then her will regarding disposition of assets which she never received in her lifetime from your aunt is invalid.

If your aunt’s will left things to your mother who had already died, then that will is also invalid.

You need an attorney.

john65pennington's avatar

Realeyes, thanks. I have a copy of her bank statement, which shows the money being deposited into my aunts checking account. The beneficiary is clearly stated on Revocable Trust, my mothers name and address.

What really concerns me, is what the bank officer told me. She said, “if he needed money to pay your aunts bills, he had three other bank accounts here, that he could have drawn from”. This is what waved a red flag to me.

Cwotus. My mother died before my aunt. So, you are saying that the Revocable Trust is invalid? If so, why is that? The money has been in the bank, since 1994 and has drawn a lot of interest.

At the least, shouldn’t the $20,000 dollars go into Probate Court?

And, did my cousin, as POA, have the authority to withdraw this money, when it had a benefiarcy clearly stated on it?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Welcome to the world of inheritance, money and family. What a frigging nightmare it is. I would suggest walking away and just never talk with the cousin again. You could get a lawyer, spend tons of money and still never get back what you should have recieved. I could tell horror stories about what family does to family when this happens.

CWOTUS's avatar


Didn’t your mother die last year? And your aunt died recently? (I’m sorry for your losses, and I don’t want to be insensitive, but the timing of these events is essential to the answer.)

If your aunt’s will left everything to your mother, and if your mother had already died, then your aunt’s will is invalid. You can’t leave assets to the dead, and the legal system doesn’t refer back to the wills of people who have already died before the current will should be executed to see (or guess) “What should be done with these new assets that your mother never realized in her life?”

If your aunt’s trust left assets “to you and your brother” (and obviously you are still among us, and we assume so is your brother), then whoever took those assets is in the wrong. But if the trust left money to someone who has already died, then the trust instructions for that distribution no longer apply. There should be a clause (in a properly written trust) to handle that case. What does the trust say about distribution of your aunt’s assets in case your mother died before your aunt?

EverRose11's avatar

Oh you need an attorney, sorry I am going through estate nightmares also money and death make for an evil combination. ..I tell you Good Luck

MollyMcGuire's avatar

There are too many unanswered questions. If I were you I would go ahead and talk to a local attorney who handles estates/probate issues.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

@CWOT Your statements are incorrect unless you know for sure whether or not john65pennington’s state operates under a lapse or anti-lapse statute. Also, he said his mother was beneficiary to a trust, not a will.

CWOTUS's avatar

Thank you, @MollyMcGuire.

At least one statement I made was correct: @john65pennington you need to talk to an attorney!

MollyMcGuire's avatar

@CWOTUS I told him the same thing. So we both said the most important thing (in my opinion). It would be impossible to give the OP good advice with the limited info. The main things are that the power of attorney died with the aunt but the trust did not.

andrew05's avatar

Before making any decesions try looking back on your family history.Especially your aunty’s money as well as the belonging’s that were sold further more yes you will need an attorney.Second if something was left in your mothers name then clearly the bank has made more then an error thay have illegally hand it over assets that clearly belong to you and your sibling or elder.Third this i find hard to believe the fact the bank has given away assets that was handed to your mother who you say has passed away and only for your cousin to come along and take away.The only way the bank could have given that away is by your cousin having some type of document to be able to get this type of money?.

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