What can I do if I am beneficiary of my grandmother's estate but my stepmother cosigned for a loan? 8 Answers as of December 03, 2011

My grandmother passed away recently and I am the sole beneficiary of her estate. My grandfather has also passed away leaving me as the sole beneficiary as well. My stepmother worked at a bank as a loan officer and used her authority to secure a loan for my grandmother and took most of the money she also cosigned for the loan. My grandmother had her house as collateral she was also 79 years old. Now my stepmother is cleaning out her bank deposits and claiming her life insurance policies. What can I do?

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Martin Barnes - Attorney at Law
Martin Barnes - Attorney at Law | Martin Barnes
If your stepmother fraudulently obtained a loan using an asset that did not belong to her (i.e. a house that belonged to your grandmother) as security for the loan you should seek the urgent assistance of attorney. There are both criminal and civil issues at stake in the fact pattern you have presented.
Answer Applies to: Indiana
Replied: 12/3/2011
The Law Offices of Laurie E. Ohall, P.A.
The Law Offices of Laurie E. Ohall, P.A. | Laurie E. Ohall
The only way an individual can have access to bank accounts and life insurance proceeds of a decedent, is if the decedent made them the beneficiary of the life insurance or named them as a joint owner or payable on death beneficiary of the bank account. Neither banks nor life insurance companies will pay anything to her if she is not listed on the accounts or designated as a beneficiary.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 11/30/2011
Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
Unless your stepmother is/was named as the beneficiary of your grandmother's life insurance policy, no life insurance company is going to pay the policy proceeds to her, personally. Likewise with bank accounts. A bank is much too concerned with potential liability to hand over accounts to someone who cannot establish entitlement to the money. It is possible that your grandmother set up the account(s) in joint names with your stepmother. If this is the case, the money actually belongs to the joint owner upon your grandmother's death. Being the sole beneficiary of your grandmother's estate means that you are entitled to any assets of the estate remaining for distribution after payment of just debts and costs of administering the estate. Your stepmother may have a claim against the estate as a creditor. These are all issues that you need to discuss with your attorney.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 11/29/2011
Goldsmith & Guymon
Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
If your mother is the named beneficiary on bank accounts and insurance policies then she is the appropriate person to receive those assets. You mention that you are the beneficiary. Do you mean you are named in your grandmother's Will? If so, a Will only applies to probate assets. Those are assets that do not have a named beneficiary, are not joint tenant accounts and are not in a trust. Creditors are always paid before Estate beneficiaries, so if a lender is due money, the lender needs to be repaid from the estate before a beneficiary receives an inheritance. To discuss your specific situation, you should make an appointment with an attorney who can address your specific issues. We offer a one hour consultation with an attorney who will provide you with important information regarding your specific case and will able to advise you on the options that you should consider in determining your next steps for the small investment of $100. This is a significant discount from our billing rates. We are providing a valuable service to you at a discounted rate. If you are interested in making an appointment with one of our attorneys, please contact Michelle at 702 873 9500. She will need to gather some initial data from you and run a conflicts check before an appointment may be set. Our web site, www.goldguylaw.com , can provide you with more information about the law firm and our attorneys. This response is not intended to create an attorney client relationship. The response is solely intended to answer the question presented. Additional facts and issues are unknown to the responding attorney. Should you still have questions, legal assistance should be sought by making an appointment to meet with an attorney, rather than attempting to resolve the issue via e mail. This response is merely provided to give direction to assist you in the decision of whether you should contact an attorney or not.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 11/29/2011
Ashman Law Office
Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
You can either watch it happen and not hire a lawyer and see the money disappear, or you can do what you already should have done and that is to hire a lawyer and have the lawyer try to stop her.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 11/29/2011
    THE BROOME LAW FIRM, LLC | Barry D. Broome
    The co-signing of a loan does not give ownership. Both names would need to be listed as owner. The cash accounts must also have both names as ownership if the survivor is to receive it. Life insurance must be paid to a beneficiary.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 11/29/2011
    The Schreiber Law Firm
    The Schreiber Law Firm | Jeffrey D. Schreiber
    If the stepmother obtained most of the proceeds and encumbered the grandmother's property, there may be an issue of financial elder abuse and the estate can argue that the stepmother owes the estate for the money she received. Whether she has the right to the checking accounts or the life insurance depends on how the checking accounts were titled and who the beneficiary of the life insurance was and when that happened. If the stepmother had the accounts changed to include her or had the insurance beneficiary designation changed to her instead of someone else who was the beneficiary, that may also be financial elder abuse if recently changed.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/28/2011
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