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Do I need a probate Attorney? No will left, and a very small estate. I only want my parent's belongings.

Las Vegas, NV |

My elderly father passed away in September. I live in Nevada, he lived in Mesa, AZ, with his girlfriend of 18 years. They were never married, and there was never a common law marriage. Before he passed, but after he was diagnosed, his girlfriend and her family stated that when he passed, I would be allowed to retrieve his belongings and my deceased MOTHER'S belongings (which dad's girlfriend kept for 18 years, including jewelry and clothing). Now, her family is playing games, saying I have to wait until the girlfriend passes, that the medical durable power of attorney my father signed to her son is still in effect (I know better), and that the girlfriend's son is executor of my father's estate (again, not true). I am my father's sole next of kin. Period.

Attorney Answers 3

  1. Best answer

    If there is no Will, then the girlfriend's son could not be executor. I would try to discuss this with her again, reminding her of her promises during your father's lifetime. If she still balks, then you may need to hire an attorney. Whether or not you open probate depends on her response. If she refuses to turn things over, probate will be necessary in order for you to get authority to go to the court and compel her to do so. Otherwise, probate is not usually necessary, when there is only personal property. Probate court is all about giving someone legal authority to transfer title to the decedent's assets. In the case of personal belongings, there IS NO title, so probate would not normally need to be involved.

    In summary, I would request your father's (and mother's) items from the girlfriend. If she refuses, I would have a lawyer send a demand letter. If she still refuses, you would need to open an estate in order to compel her cooperation.

    I am sorry for your loss and wish you the best in resolving this issue!

    James Frederick

    *** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state.

  2. Your most desirable course of action would be to resolve this is with the girlfriend. I'm not sure why her family is involved. If you cannot work things out with them, reasonably, you could consult with a local probate attorney. The local attorney can send a demand. If that doesn't work, a probate petition could be filed to compel the girlfriend to do the right thing. Good luck.

    When responding to questions posted on Avvo, I provide a general purpose response based on California law as I am licensed in California. In reviewing my response, you are specifically advised that your use of, or reliance upon any response I provide is not advisable. I do not have all relevant background details or facts related to your issue / matter, thus I am not in a position to give you legal advice. Further, your review, use of, or reliance upon my response does not establish an attorney-client relationship between us nor does it qualify as a legal consultation for any purpose. For specific advice regarding your particular circumstances, you should consult and retain local counsel.

  3. I agree with my colleagues as to your options. I just want to add that probate occurs in the county where the deceased resided. Since Arizona law applies, you should meet or speak with an Arizona probate attorney to determine the best course. A letter from that attorney to the girlfriend might be the way to go.

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