Trusts & Estates Law/Mothers Will



 My mother just had her will redone due to the death of my father about a year ago. She has named my sister and myself to both be executors with an equal split of everything 50/50. My question is simple and to the point. Is there anything my sister could do to rob me out of my half? We do not get along well at all and I could see her being vindictive and trying to pull something. I have asked my mother to please name me as sole executor but says that this is the way she wants it, which is fine, with the exception of my sisters attitude. I live in the state of Delaware. I realize you only practice in CA. but could you try to give me some sort of general "heads up" that could guide me?


Thanks for your question.  I don't know what kinds of assets your mother owns but, for example, let's assume she has a bank or brokerage account.  If your mother were to add your sister's name to the account (so the account reads "mom and sister" either on the statements or on the records located at the bank) ... or if she were to name your sister as the "pay on death" beneficiary of the account, then you would not receive any share of it - at least under California law.  As you yourself point out, I don't practice in Delaware so I don't know if the laws there are different or not (by the way, if your mother doesn't live in Delaware, you need to consult a lawyer in the state where your mother lives to find out what laws will apply).

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Janet Brewer


BE CAREFUL about taking legal advice from non-lawyers.

I am a licensed attorney in California. I am available to answer questions about probating estates, preparing wills and trusts, administering estates and trusts, forming family limited partnerships and limited liability companies, and establishing a wide variety of estate and gift tax-sensitive trusts (charitable trusts, children's trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts, etc.).

I can also answer questions regarding the preparation of estate tax returns (Form 706) in taxable estates. Please note that I do not prepare trust income tax returns and cannot provide you with any information about that type of return.

Please note: I am only able to practice law in the State of California. I cannot answer specific questions about other states' laws; I can only provide some "general" information that may or may not apply to your situation.


I have practiced California estate, gift-planning, and probate law exclusively since 1991. I am certified as a specialist in estate planning and probate law by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization (there are less than 125 such specialists practicing in Santa Clara County and fewer than 7,000 practicing in California - out of over 170,000 lawyers statewide).

I have served as an Instructor in the CFP (certificate in financial planning) program at University of California Santa Cruz, teaching the estate planning segment.

Silicon Valley Bar Association
Wealth Counsel
Wealth Advisors' Forum
Executive Committee Member, Solo and Small Firm Section of the California State Bar (appointed to a 3 year term by the California State Bar Board of Governors)

I received my law degree (J.D.) from University of Denver Law School in 1975. I was admitted to the Colorado Bar in 1975 and to the California Bar in 1977 (NOTE: although I am a member of the Colorado Bar, I am on INACTIVE status there). I earned an M.B.A. in 1982, and I earned a Masters Degree in Taxation Law (LLM) at Golden Gate University Law School in 2010 (with honors).

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Awards and Honors
2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, & 2012 - chosen as a "SuperLawyer" - one of the top 5% of Northern California lawyers practicing in the estate planning and probate area ( Avvo Rating of 10.0/10.0

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