Q. My wife’s mother passed away last January. Her younger sister was executrix of the estate. Her mother had investments and property of close to € 900,000 prior to 2018.  She supposedly lost half her investments in the recession and then COVID. When she passed away, my wife’s sister said that there was nothing left in the estate. What documents can she ask to see in order to make sure the estate is totally depleted? There wasn’t even a will shown to her.  Pat – Portmarnock Co Dublin

A. Normally Pat mothers inform their children what’s happening to surplus monies before their passing so it’s particularly sad there is a money issue between siblings at this sensitive time of life. If your mother-in-law had a will, or if she died “intestate” – without a Will – the sister would be required to open a Probate case or obtain Letters of Administration if intestate to ‘settle the estate’. Probate proceedings are public so your wife would be able to see an account of what’s left and also see the record of the Will. Sadly you have no right to see the Will before Probate is granted. If you feel the Will was tampered with, you could lodge a “caveat” ( means beware in Latin ) with the Probate Office. As regards final account – that can only be requested by the beneficiary who has been given the remainder of the estate. If your mother-in-law had a living trust, the sister wouldn’t have to open a Probate case but she may be required to provide trust documents and an account of the estate to beneficiaries and heirs.  If the sister baulks at providing this information, your wife may need to take her to court. She would be smart to consult a law firm familiar with the relevant laws. Sad really – all you are doing is lining the pockets of the lawyers !

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