My grandfather died in oct of 2012, his stepdaughter recently contacted us saying that she found his Will in storage and needed us to sign a paper so we didnt need a bond. When asked if we could see the will she claimed to have filed it, now 6 month after his death, but when i called the local Register of wills they found no estate in my Grandfathers name. Now we are unsure as to what is going on or how to get a copy of the will if there is one.
Elder Law Attorney
I would suggest that if you are not sure what you are signing and why, then you shouldn't sign it. Your request to see the Will is reasonable. If the "paper" has an attorneys name and phone number on it then you might call the attorney to ask your questions. Otherwise, it may be prudent to consult with a probate attorney that practices in the county that your grandfather died to see if he/she can give you guidance based on your circumstances.
You can find good attorneys on this website or at naela.org. Good Luck!
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Estate Planning Attorney
The stepdaughter does not have statutory priority to be PR of the estate and would have to produce a will nominating her as PR. The definition of child does not include stepchildren.
The first thing you can do is go to the Maryland Register of Wills website and do an estate search. That will enable you to search all 24 jurisdictions in Maryland at once to see if an estate has been opened anywhere in the state.
If there has been no estate opened you could file a petition for probate to open an estate in the county in which your grandfather lived. If you are the closest surviving relative (no surviving children or spouse) you may be appointed. At the very least, you may generate a hearing on who should be appointed, bringing family members together to have a judge determine who should be in charge.
Once appointed, the PR would have legal authority to gather and secure the assets owned by your grandfather at his death.
Any answer provided in this forum is not offered as legal advice upon which you can rely without further discussion of the facts and circumstances of the particular situation. Sometimes things you may think are unimportant (and you don't disclose them in your posting) may make a big difference in correctly analyzing the issue. There is no substitution for a one-on-one consultation with an attorney, and you should not take this answer as such.
Elder Law Attorney
When the paperwork is being prepared to start the probate of an estate, if the requirement that the executor post a bond wasn't waived in the Will, we often start by asking the heirs to waive bond. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don't. But the request always comes from us, the attorney, on our letterhead. It may just be that the newly found Will hasn't been delivered to the court yet. You can ask the stepdaughter who the attorney is and contact them yourself about the pending probate, but don't just rely on a telephone call from someone claiming to be the attorney. Get it in writing.
Go right to the source of information for all estates in Maryland, the on-line website for the Register of Wills! if Grand-Dad's name doesn't appear, then there is no estate filed. To smoke out the Will and the truth, you may be the one to file a petition for probate. Stepdaughter will get notice of your request, and all the parties will assemble before the Orphan's Court to straighten this out. But get some legal representation!