When someone you love is near death or has passed away, the last thing you want to deal with is litigation. However, you’ve started noticing that objects that were once in their home aren’t there when you visit. Items that should be split among the heirs seem to be missing, even though they should be accounted for.
If you see this kind of issue, your first priority is to talk to the executor of the estate (if your loved one has passed) or to your family member or friend if they’re still living. They may have gifted an asset to someone if they’re still living, which is typically their right to do unless they don’t have the mental capacity and understanding to pass it on.
If they have passed away, then this is the time when you need to talk to the executor and ask to see a list of the assets in the estate. If you notice that some are missing and know they were there at the time of your loved one’s death, there are three main possibilities: The executor is involved in some foul play, someone else close to the family (or within the family itself) has taken an asset or the asset has not yet been located but remains with the estate.
What should you do if the executor can’t find the missing items?
If you’re the executor of the estate and notice that there are missing assets, take a full inventory and review it to be certain. Then, discuss the issue to find out your legal options for retrieving assets that others may have taken unexpectedly. A forensic accountant or private detective may be able to help, as well.
If you are not the executor and the current executor cannot find the missing items, they should investigate and ask those around them if anyone has taken them. They may also want to discuss the issue with an attorney to determine the steps to take next.
On your end, if you believe the executor has taken those items, you may want to take them to court, especially if you have evidence that they’ve been stealing assets from the estate.