They insurance settlement in question was supposed to go towards the burial of my mom, but my adopted sister is unwilling to sign the papers releasing her interest on the insurance policy, of which I am the executor.

I am sorry for your loss.

I have to give you a lawyer’s answer. It depends. You can always sue…the question is whether or not you will prevail.

I am not trying to be cute. Unfortunately many estate plans are incomplete or not done properly. Even though your mother wanted the proceeds of the insurance policy to go toward her funeral, it doesn’t mean that is what is going to happen.

If you mother had a life insurance contract with a funeral home, the proceeds would have to go towards her funeral and burial. However, if she had an insurance policy payable to your adopted sister, your adopted sister can do whatever she wants with her share of the money. She may have a moral obligation to pay the bill, but not a legal obligation. Her share belongs to her.

As executor you have the right to control all of the assets that are in probate. You do not control the proceeds of life insurance unless the beneficiary of the policy is the probate estate.

Check with your probate attorney to be certain.

This answer does not constitute legal advice and does not and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The law may vary depending on the state in which you reside. It is intended only to give some direction in which to seek assistance.

Circular 230 Disclosure: Pursuant to recently-enacted U.S. Treasury Department Regulations, I am now required to advise you that, unless otherwise expressly indicated, any federal tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended or written to be used, and may not be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding tax-related penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any tax-related matters addressed herein.