A woman who had been appointed as the executor of her mother's estate was sentenced to jail last week because she lied to a probate judge about the money she was responsible for distributing to her siblings. The woman's mother had died in 2006 of cancer, after she had allegedly been misdiagnosed. The family won a wrongful death settlement, which after legal fees was over half a million dollars.
The woman was appointed as administrator of her mother's now-sizeable estate, and she was supposed to issue checks to her sister and two brothers, as well as herself, for about $138,000. However, she only gave them each about $50,000, as well as giving a similar amount to her father.
After the woman's siblings were unable to determine from her why they weren't receiving what they were due, a probate judge removed her as administrator of the estate. A special administrator was appointed in her place, and the siblings' allegations of financial irregularity were forwarded to the district attorney's office. The woman and her husband were discovered to have kept the money, spending some and investing the rest.
As a result of the criminal case, the woman and her husband were each sentenced to a year and a half in jail. They were also were ordered to pay restitution to the woman's siblings, which was estimated to be more than $50,000.
Squabbles among family members often occur when an estate is probated, particularly when large sums of money are involved. The advice of an attorney who can assist or oversee the estate administration process may help to avoid unfortunate circumstances such as these.
Source: The Boston Globe, " Brockton woman sentenced after cheating her siblings out of thousands in settlement in mother's death," Brian R. Ballou, Jan. 25, 2012