A first cousin died and I was told that I will receive a letter to sign off on.

My cousin passed away 3 weeks ago. I'd like to know if I'm entitled to receive any inheritance, he was never married and has no children. But a third cousin was his power of attorney for he paid the deceased rent, aide that lived and took care of him and all expenses that needed to be paid. Being that I was told that I'll receive a letter to sign off on, should I sign off on something that I did not see or do not know what I'm signing off on. Does this mean I should be entitled to something?

Medford, NY -

Attorney Answers (4)

Jayson Lutzky

Jayson Lutzky

Divorce / Separation Lawyer - Bronx, NY

Bring the will to an attorney to review before signing anything. Insist on having a copy of the will before you sign the document.

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Michael S. Haber

Michael S. Haber

Probate Attorney - New York, NY

Mr. Pippen and Mr. Lutzky give you good advice. And as a universal rule, never sign anything where you "do not know what I'm signing off on."

None of us here on avvo can advise you as to whether you're entitled to any share of your cousin's estate, without having (at the very least) reviewed the will and reviewed your family tree. If the will is valid and names you as a legatee, then you will receive something under the will; if there was no will (or, similarly, if there was a will that is denied probate because it is not valid and genuine), then you would receive a portion of the estate only if you are a "distributee" -- determining that cannot be done without having an understanding of the relatives who survived your cousin.

As for the third cousin who served as your cousin's attorney-in-fact pursuant to a power of attorney, you should understand that powers of attorney cease at the time of the death of the principal, so it is quite irrelevant who had served pursuant to a power of attorney.

Good luck to you.

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Joseph Franklin Pippen Jr.

Joseph Franklin Pippen Jr.

Estate Planning Attorney - Largo, FL

Under the circumstances-do not sign anything until an attorney has reviewed the document
and has advised you accordingly.

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James P. Frederick

James P. Frederick

Probate Attorney - Livonia, MI

I agree with my colleagues. I would simply add that, without knowing what you are being asked to "sign off" on, it is possible that all it is is a consent to admit the Will to probate and have an executor appointed. You should not assume that you are being asked to give up an inheritance, when you have not even seen the document in question. Once probate is open, you will be entitled to a copy of the Will, if you are an interested person.

You should not sign anything you do not understand without seeking legal counsel.

James Frederick

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Related Topics

Inheritance rights and estate planning

Inheritance rights refers to the rights most states give to a spouse (and in some cases, children or grandchildren) that prevent you from disinheriting them.

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