My sister and I (residents of Illinois) are named both as co-personal representatives and as co-heirs in the will of my late aunt (resident of Arizona). I want my half of the remaining assets (a house in Arizona and some savings bonds); my sister refuses to cooperate (she won't agree to put the house up for sale, and she won't agree to cash in the savings bonds) and also refuses to explain why. My aunt died in 1996, and as much as I hate to consider legal action against my sister, I don't know what else to do. What are my rights in this matter? and/or What can I do?
Why won't she agree to a sale, is she living there? If so, she should be paying rent to the estate. Probably the only way to really *force* sale is by going to court and asking for a partition of the property. You may able to convince the probate judge to order it up for sale though, you'd need to consult an AZ atty. Good luck.
Is she living in the house? If so, then it's understandable she doesn't want to sell for sentimental reasons. However, if the will doesn't mention exact instructions about how the house is to be handled, then she will have to face up to that reality and find another place to live so the home can be sold, or compromise by offering to pay you for your share of the home by buying you out (if she wants to continue living there).
How much are the savings bonds worth?
Are they mentioned in the will?
Is this estate still open or has it officially been closed?
If the savings bonds were purchased by your aunt, and they only show her name as bond owner, then they should have been reported as an estate asset. If the estate is still open, you need to have your attorney petition the court to report the value of these bonds as an estate asset, if that has not already been done.
If the bonds show your aunt's name and someone else's name too (perhaps your name or your sister's name as co-owners of the bonds), then they don't even need to go through the probate process (but don't let your sister know this little secret). The surviving co-owner automatically gets title to the bonds and can cash them in at any local bank that sells savings bonds, but that person would need to furnish a certified copy of the death certificate and a certified copy of the executor's papers. So I guess this means that the bonds can't be cashed unless both executors are there to cash them in, since both executor's signatures would be required.
Seems like it would be to her advantage to get the bonds cashed in (so she could get half and you could get half), unless this money would also be distributed among other heirs.
I'm guessing that your sister thought she could cash these in secretly, without anyone knowing about it (if they were NOT reported as an estate asset), but that just will not be possible, since as co-executors, both of your signatures would be required before they could be cashed in.
(If you want more information about savings bonds and how to cash them in when a deceased owner has died, go to the website [url]www.savingsbond.gov[/url] and click on the FAQ/frequently asked questions section).
If possible, you need to get this matter handled in probate court, without having to otherwise have a costly lawsuit to resolve this matter.
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