Need help! Executor ran away with will’s money
I’ve tried contacting the executor but was ghosted. Made a police report but they say it’s a civil case. I have no money to sue. Any kind soul with law knowledge able to help me? Or any pro bono lawyer willing to help me?
Edit* I’m just really confused as to why scammers can be apprehended but not executor cheating estate.
Edit 2* I hope this can be shared to other forums and media platforms for more help thanks!
- You can sue and apply for legal fees to be paid for by the defendant (ur uncle) when he loses. That way overall your loss is net zero.
And either way, wouldnt you just deduct legal fees from the rest of yall’s share of the estate? Why would that be a loss to u? I’m assuming ofc, the estate itself is significant or else you wouldn’t be here asking for advice in the first place.
- Police are not lawyers, and when you report something like. Executor of will ghosting you. Then there are so many questions need to be answered, like why? does he have a reason? moreover, the police are not in the position to read your will. Look here.
Technically, it is a crime if the executor of a will withdraw money, sold asset and pocket it instate of distributing the money to according to the will, then this person have committed criminal breach of trust which is a serious crime, and cases like this can be very complicated as say if it involve a property, and the executor sold it, took the money, run away.. it’s not just the money he took. There are other opportunity cost involve. Maybe he sold it at low price? Hence, on one hand, the executor committed a crime and should be reported and arrested. Then he should get sued for the loses after or during his stay in prison?
Maybe OP should scrutinize the will carefully, or maybe go to Toa payoh HDB Hub where there is a section with a stretch of law firm there (It’s like a Sim Lim square for law firms), and go door to door, and ask if any of the lawyer there can help look at the will and provide some advise, and ask for the cost, and don’t be shy to tell them you cannot afford if it’s too expensive (Don’t hit around the bushes and be genuine), and there may be some trainee or some lawyers willing to step in to take a quick look at your will for no or a very small fee, and from there, hopefully you will get some valuable advise.
Just my personal opinion, or what I may do if I am in OP shoe. If OP is sure the executor have absconded with the money, then go to the police station and report this guy stole the money. Don’t say he is executor. Just report he is task to withdraw the money then run away and he committed criminal breach of trust, and hopefully this will give them a good reason to step in, but if you tell them he is an executor, then they will likely advise you to go to a lawyer.
- One possibility for now would be to file a Magistrate’s Complaint at the State Courts. This means that the court will consider whether your complaint, if proven, might disclose a criminal offence; if so, the court can take steps such as ordering the police to investigate further. Making a Magistrate’s Complaint costs $20. You can file the paperwork online, and then you will have to go to the court in person to swear or affirm the complaint.
There is no guarantee that the court will order the police to investigate further, nor that the police will ultimately discover sufficient evidence to show that a criminal offence has been committed, nor that the executor will be prosecuted. Nonetheless, the procedure may be worth a try.
If you choose to do so, you will need to gather evidence. This might include:
-the will itself, and particularly the parts that state what the executor must do with the money;
-evidence that the executor has not done those things, but instead has kept the money, despite a certain amount of time having passed;
-evidence, if any, of what the executor has done with the money;
-previous communications with the executor relating to the money, or attempts at communication — this can take the form of, for example, WhatsApp screenshots (by the way, make it a habit to gather such evidence; take screenshots in case the person you’re communicating with deletes the messages afterwards);
-similar communications, or attempted communications, by other beneficiaries under the will.
In your complaint, you should set out the facts in a logical sequence with appropriate supporting detail. For example, don’t just say that you were “ghosted”; provide details of the attempts at communication you and/or other beneficiaries have made, and the responses (if any) you have received.
If you don’t have enough space in the online form to provide details, you can say something like ‘Please refer to the attached document.’ and provide details in a separate document.
Without knowledge of further facts, I would point out that one element of that offence is dishonesty. Without delving into the legal meaning of “dishonesty”, I would point out that dishonesty means more than merely being mistaken negligent, etc. Therefore, you should consider possible arguments that the executor was merely mistaken, negligent, changed phone number, etc., and prepare to respond if necessary. (Indeed, it appears that it is not a crime for an executor merely to be slow, careless, etc.)
Some have suggested applying for legal advice or going for free legal clinics. If you need further guidance, I would suggest going to a legal clinic. This doesn’t mean that they will assign a lawyer to you to fight a case. However, one-off advice from a lawyer can still be helpful. In particular, if you decide to file a Magistrate’s Complaint, then a legal clinic might be able to give you advice on how to put your complaint together and discuss what kind of evidence you should provide.
Edit: One more thing — The maximum punishment for criminal breach of trust is 7 years’ jail/fine/both. The website I linked to above states: “A Magistrate’s Complaint can be filed for offences that are punishable by up to 3 years’ imprisonment or a fine, or both.” I am, with respect, not sure that that website is correct. If you click on the “pre-filing assessment”, it tells you: “If the offence carries a maximum punishment which exceeds three years imprisonment, you will not be allowed to privately prosecute the case unless you obtain the Public Prosecutor’s consent.”, but still lets you fail the Magistrate’s Complaint.