Question: My mother is alive. However, a handwritten will that my father previously wrote leaves me his house, investments, a sports car, etc. It also instructs that 20% should be paid out to me per year. My sister is the estate’s executor and will not give me the attorney’s name or any other information. I have a copy of my father’s will and wishes. There is no probate case in the county where he lived and died. What do I do? What are my rights?

Answer: You have stated quite a few facts that may not be as straightforward as you seem to think. Perhaps the biggest question is, how did your father have the assets that you listed titled? If the house, the investments, the sports car, etc. were jointly titled with your mom, they are hers now. The will only directs the distribution of assets that were titled to him alone.

If your father did own his house by hiimself, or had more than $64,000 in other assets, your sister is going to need to open a probate matter to get the assets transferred to your father’s heirs. Part of the probate process is notifying the interested parties, one of which will be you, and your sister would be required to share information with you once that gets underway.

If your sister does not open a probate matter, you could do it. But note that even if your father’s will is valid and does instruct that his assets should go to you, your mother may have the right to elect a spousal share, which is a minimum amount of assets that a spouse is entitled to receive from a decedent, even if there is a will that leaves him or her less. Opening a probate and then finding out that the assets are really supposed to go to your mom could result in a lot of wasted time and money.

Finally, there is the issue of the 20% that is supposed to be paid out to you each year. 20% of what? Paid out by who? Usually, a trust is required if money is going to be slowly distributed over a period of years.

You should proceed carefully here. There are several critical pieces of information missing from your question. And what is there doesn’t make complete sense. I am sorry for your loss, and hope that this has at least provided a starting point for further investigation.