in the event of his death. When he died my stepmother got all of our addresses and last four digits of our social security number so that the lawyer could mail us a copy of the will. She never showed us a copy of the will or the old will untill my sister asked for a copy.
About two months later the lawyer says that he did not make up a new will and he does not know why she told us that. The lawyer is a cousin to her exdaughter in law, who has taken over telling us what will happen with their estate. Is their any way we can prove that a new will was made. I know that my father would have had the lawyer notorize the will because his first will had been notorize by a different lawyer.
I get a lot of calls from people with similar stories. Dad remarried and died first, now my stepmom won't tell me anything. What can be done? I say the first question is what assets do you know of, that were in his own name individually and not owned joint with the second wife? Because if they owned everything joint, then there's little or nothing that can be done, because she as the joint owner will have succeeded to sole ownership of all such assets. The will may not even matter.
There are exceptions and variations and as many situations as there are individuals but that is a pattern I often see. I am not trying to discourage just give you a heads up about a common unhappy outcome. You must call a lawyer in your jurisdiction and decide to hire or not. Louisiana especially has some different laws about inheritance and wills due to its history as a Napoleonic code jurisdiction and so online free advice shopping may not be sufficient to get this handled correctly. Call an estates lawyer in the county where he resided by the way, that is the best choice, usually.
No legal representation exists by virtue of this answer. Consult your attorney. I am only licensed to practice law in Indiana and Illinois.
Estate Planning Attorney
This is a difficult situation - communications between an attorney and client are privileged so the attorney may not be able to explain more. I know that I have had clients who intended to sign a new Will, but put it off or changed their minds and, after they pass away and their loved ones call looking for the Will, I only can reveal that I do not have one.
State law usually requires that the holder of an original Will provide it to the court or named executor. You could ask the attorney to prepare an affidavit stating that he did not prepare/witness a new Will for your father -the attorney thus is swearing to the truth that there is no new Will. You also may check with other attorney's offices to see whether he went to a different attorney. You also can file a request for notice with the court so that any probate filing in connection with your father's estate is sent to you. Another option is to file with the probate court to be appointed executor, and then use the court's subpoena power to request a Will from the attorney.
Legal advice depends upon the particular facts of a given situation. Please use my answers as general information but not legal counsel.
Elder Law Attorney
#1 How much do you want to spend to find out that your father's wife gets everything?
#2 Double the figure arrived at in #1.
#3 Take the #2 amount of money and pay it to a lawyer to open probate, demand discovery of the will, etc, etc.
#4 Don't blame me (or your lawyer) when you find out that your father's wife gets everything.
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