My sister is stubbornly withholding my inheritance out of spite and won’t answer emails or phone calls. Everybody in the family has received their inheritance except me. How do I start this process? I was told to find the necessary forms at the law library. Are there filing fees and will this be costly, because I don’t have any money.

I will make several assumptions with your question. I will assume that a probate has been opened in Maricopa County and your sister has been appointed as Personal Representative. I will also assume your sister used the services of an attorney to open the probate. I believe you want your inheritance and you don’t really care about becoming Personal Representative yourself. You had to sign papers to open the estate which would allow your sister to be appointed as sole Personal Representative.

My first recommendation is that you contact the attorney for the estate and let the attorney know you have not been paid your inheritance. Under Arizona law the probate cannot be closed until all of the beneficiaries have been paid and they have signed receipts and approval documents. The attorney will be able to speak with your sister about the hold-up. That may move things along. I would also ask the attorney to see why you have not been paid. There may be a reason for the delay due to the type of asset you are going to receive.

If that doesn’t work, or there is no attorney, the court will contact your sister 2 years after the probate has been opened to demand that she pay all the beneficiaries and close out the estate. In the meantime you could send a letter to your sister, with a copy to the court, spelling out your concerns. The letter should contain the estate name and number. If all that doesn’t work, or you don’t want to wait so long, you will have to contact an attorney. Check with the State Bar of Arizona to get a free lawyer referral. The number is 602-252-4804 or go online to

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.

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