Dear Len & Rosie,
My father made out his will. Don’t all three of his children get a copy of it? My sister has my father’s power of attorney and she is the executor of his estate, but she won’t let my brother or I see a copy of his will or a list of his monthly expenses. She says that only she should know about father’s money and what is in his will. I DO NOT trust her or her husband. Please tell me who is right - Her or me? I want, at least, to see his will and have a copy.
The obvious question that comes to mind is “Why not ask your father for a copy of his will?” We can only assume that you have already asked, and he said no. Either that or your father is incapacitated and is incapable of giving you the will or even asking his lawyer to provide you with a copy.
Neither you nor your brother have an inherent right to see your father’s will until he has passed away and it is lodged with the probate court. When that happens, your father’s will becomes a public record that anyone can see. If your father does not want you to know what is in his will while he is still living, you are out of luck. He has the right to keep his estate plan private.
If your father created a trust to avoid probate, it’s even more private. When your father dies, the trust document does not have to be delivered to the court. But you and your brother, and all of the other trust beneficiaries, are entitled to a copy of the trust, but only when the trust becomes irrevocable upon your father’s death.
Your question about your father’s expenses has a similar answer. An adult daughter does not have a right to look at her parents’ checkbook. If your father has the ability to make his own decisions, and if he trusts your sister to take care of everything, then that is his business, not yours.
But our guess, and we’re reading between the lines here, is that your father may not have the capacity to make his own decisions. He may be in an assited living facility somewhere, and maybe your sister is using the power of attorney to pay his bills and manage his finances. If this is the case and you have reason to believe that your sister is taking advantage of your father, then you should consult with an attorney and consider filing for conservatorship. You don’t have the right to any of this information yourself, but if you are appointed as your father’s conservator, you will gain standing to review all of his finances.
Unless you become your father’s conservator, you cannot compel your sister give anyone an accounting of her activities as his attorney-in-fact while your father is still alive. And no one other than the court or your father can take away your sister’s authority to manage his assets. If your father cannot give you the answers, and your sister refuses to do so, then your choice is between letting your sister take care of everything, and confronting her in court.
Len & Rosie