There are 2 separate wills I didn't know existed. They are over 15 years old. I was to receive 10% of their estate, doll collection and some furniture. She would brag that she earned every penny of the $200,000 left by them. My mother hid the will and never distributed my portion to me or to my cousins. She is 75 and has a family trust which I have been disinherited from. Can I sue her for what I never received now or wait til she dies and sue the family trust that I am disinherited from?
Lawsuit / Dispute Attorney
The question is not how old the wills are, but how long it has been since your grandparents passed away and whether the wills you found were the ones in force at the time of their deaths.
If you still have rights that are not barred by the statute of limitations, you would need to pursue your claims now, and not wait until after your mother's death.
I strongly suggest you contact an attorney to help you learn if your claims are viable.
There is more information required; how did your mother access the $200,000, as that amount exceeds the maximum permitted to transfer under California law without a probate; was she a signer on the account, for example?
If the account was joint tenancy, the will would not control.
There is a difference between rights and ability to pursue those rights. There is no bar to the time to file a petition to open probate. If you have discovered the original will, you can lodge it with the court and petition to be named administrator of your grandmother's estate. You can pursue an action in probate to determine the ownership your grandmother's assets. Here is where it gets uncomfortable. Banks only keep records subject to discovery for 6 years so you will be unable to determine your grandmother's assets in deposits. You will have to prove the will and the witnesses may not be alive after 15 years. How are you going to be able to identify your grandmother's assets after 15 years with sufficient proof that they were hers. If your mother's trust is revocable you can seek recovery of the assets transferred to the trust (belonging to your grandmother) but you have to prove they were intended for you and that the assets belonged to your grandmother.
Unfortunately, the longer you wait to seek the court's assistance the tougher it gets to obtain evidence and witnesses. Sit down with a probate attorney, show them the proof you have and the will. They can discuss your options with you and guide you in whether your pursuing this matter is worth while.
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6 lawyers agree
I agree with Mr. Perry’s statements and have a few of my own. It is entirely possible that any property your grandparents left was either distributed under a different will or without probate such as through the family trust.
I would not make the assumption, as you have done, that you are entitled to anything from either of your grandparent’s estate based simply on the contents of the wills you have discovered.
If you intend to take any action, you need to do it now. IMO, you will need sufficient funds to pursue any action. It is not the type of case most attorneys would take on a contingency. Good luck.
Michael R. Daymude, Attorney at Law
Sherman Oaks Galleria – Comerica Bank Building
15303 Ventura Boulevard, Suite 900
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403-3199
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Estate Planning Attorney
You need to bring an action immediately for two important reasons. First, there is a concept in law called laches. The concept is that if you know you are wronged and wait a long period of time to bring an action you are barred by that passage of time. Your claim arose when you found the wills.
Secondly, you mother may spend all of her money before she dies, so there would be nothing to collect against.
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