My dear friend died and now is getting taken advantage of, (I am so sad). Please help give me advice in what I should do !

Asked over 1 year ago - Los Angeles, CA

Upon my friend's death, it was established that there is no will and last testament. A former acquaintance of the decedent now claims (and signed a document affirming this to the court), his purported status as a heir to the estate, by virtue of a (very small $), thirty year old insurance policy that incorrectly lists him as a "cousin" of the decedent. I feel horrible that this acquaintance will be in a position to inherit his sizable estate, when he is not legally related to him in any manner. I would rather the proceeds of the estate go to charity, rather than this charlatan. How do I notify the court, etc... that this person has lied to the court in his representation of his being related to my friend?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Robert Miller

    Contributor Level 17


    Lawyers agree


    Answered . This is a very serious but not uncommon situation. Since you have no standing, there is nothing you can do except assist in locating the closest living relative of your friend. There are "heir hunting" firms which do that, and a good probate attorney could assist you in taking the steps necessary to try and make sure an imposter does not profit from his wrongdoing. If you have any documents showing the name of the decedent, the case number and court where pending, and anything else about your friend's history and background, you are free to call my office at any time during business hours and make an appointment to discuss the possibilities. Mention "AVVO" when you make the call.
    Disclaimer: California attorney Robert Miller has practiced for over 45 years and restricts his practice to real estate and probate matters in the Central District of Los Angeles. Any opinion expressed is for general informational purposes only, no attorney-client relationship is intended or created by this answer, and no action or inaction should be contemplated without first employing and consulting with a competent attorney convenient to the questioner.

  2. Ivette M Santaella

    Contributor Level 19


    Lawyers agree


    Answered . Hello,

    Sorry for the loss of your friend.

    Your friend died "intestate", without a will, so there are specific California statutes in the probate code that provide for how his estate will be distributed, primarily to his family members.

    It sounds like your friend's estate is already in probate.

    Please note that an " interested person" has standing to contest or raise an issue in probate court.

    An "interested person" is someone who would have an interest in the estate of the decedent, or a claim against the estate, e.g. descendant, heir, family member, spouse.

    From your question, it does not sound like you would be an "interested person" and have standing to raise this issue before the court.

    You may want to consider talking to the executor -- person appointed by the court -- to administer your friend's estate. Also, please note your concern will be taken more seriously if you have some type of hard evidence -- e.g. DNA test -- other than your feelings.

    Good luck.

  3. Jacques Tushinsky-Fox

    Contributor Level 12


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I would hire probate counsel to see what your options are here.

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