My unmarried uncle with no children or surviving siblings died in Dec 2007. I am pretty certain that there was no will. He owned a home, a car, and probably had a substantial bank account. My first cousins, who I am not close with, lived near him, and were cosigners on his bank account. Despite living in Michigan, I was close to my uncle.
I am concerned that my cousins are just going to take everything. (They apparently did that when his sister died. I couldn't even get any personal items I requested. Perhaps her money went to him; I'm not sure.)
I have been googling his name, expecting court documents for probate, but nothing has ever come up.
How can I find out any information to make a claim on his estate?
It sounds as though you're unsure whether the cousins have actually undertaken the responsibility of administering your uncle (or aunt)'s estate. Finding the appropriate court in New York to determine if an estate of any kind has been opened for either relative is an excellent place to start. A New York attorney should be able to better help you with this process, but until then, here are a few places you can start to look for information about the specific assets yourself.
One suggestion is to visit the State of New York's unclaimed property website - a practice that is sometimes overlooked when administering an estate of any kind. If a bank, financial institution, employer or government agency was holding assets for your uncle (or your aunt, for that matter) that have not been claimed, they may turn up as unclaimed property. So if your cousins didn't do anything at all with the estate, you may find assets here. Don't be discouraged if you don't find anything at first. Check back every few months. New property is added frequently. You may also wish to google unclaimed property search for other states where your aunt or uncle may have lived or may have owned property. Visit http://www.osc.state.ny.us/ouf/index.htm and enter your relative's name and where he lived to get started in New York.
Regarding the home, many counties here in Michigan now have property records available for viewing free online. If you can find the appropriate county where your uncle's property is located in New York, you may be able to review the chain of title online to determine if the house has been sold, transferred or whether it remains in his own name.
Good luck with your search.
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