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What is the Statute of Limitations in PA for inheritance with or without a will? My two sisters lied to me no money was left.

Philadelphia, PA |

My brother died in Dec 2011 and my father in March 2013. My third sister in CA said my brother had insurance and pension, but she had no info on Dad. My two sisters took care of my brother, who suffered a stroke, and even had him stay with one sister for two years when he first had his stroke before he moved out. He was on WC collecting 80% of his pay for 5 years. When he suffered a stroke my sisters went to TN and had him sign over his life insurance to them and brought him back to PA. My third sister told me he was mentally incapable of understanding what he was doing. I have been completely excluded.
Although my two sisters did all the work in caring for my brother and father I've found that I am entitled even without a will that is if one does not exist as they have said.

I've found the statute of limitations for insurance beneficiaries in PA to be six years according to "". The document was signed Dec 2006 so the statute looks like it ran out. However, I was not aware of these facts until this month, 1 week ago. The document was signed in front of a HR person where my brother worked. A deposition by his doctors in TN and PA and the HR person I assumed would attest to the case but the statute appears to be expired. My sister from CA had no info on his bank account. It is very hard for me to consider suing my two sister estates unless I have a good enough case to drive them to settlement outside of court. However, this case does not stop with my brother, My father had CD's in each one of our names that he changed over into his name with my one sister as co-owner who cared for him before and after at his apartment and her house when he needed assistance. I've exceeded my text limit.

Attorney Answers 3


When you say you are "entitled," that would refer to anything left in your brother's "estate." Insurance proceeds pass by beneficiary designation and would not be part of your brother's estate. Once the proceeds are paid out, your claim would need to be against your sisters, on behalf of the estate. Anything you recovered would be partially divided by your sisters, as well. Unless you have compelling evidence to PROVE your brother lacked mental capacity when the beneficiary forms were changed, I am not sure this is a case I would pursue. You would have a very steep uphill battle. You would also need to retain a very good probate attorney to assist you. Under the circumstances, even figuring out what state to hire the attorney in would be an issue. My initial inclination would be PA.

James Frederick

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You need to have an attorney review the documents you have and obtain from you a detailed history of what happened when. It is likely that any litigation would occur in PA, but this is not certain. In PA there is no right to an inheritance other than for spouses and then only at set percentages. There is a further distinction between assets passing via will and assets passing outside the will or outside probate. For life insurance and similar assets such as retirement accounts like an IRA, whomever is listed as the beneficiary will receive the funds unless prior to distribution you can obtain an injunction or compel the insurance company to deposit the funds with the court for the judge to decide who should receive the funds. If funds have already been released to the alleged beneficiary, you may be able to still win a lawsuit and compel the person who received the funds to return them, but any litigation should occur as soon as possible. You need to have an attorney review your docments and history of events to determine precisely when the statute of limitations will expire.

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If you brother died without a will (intestate), than you would be entitled to a share of his intestate estate if he has no children or spouse. That does not mean there is an estate. There is only an inheritance if there is probate property. Life insurance will go to the designated beneficiary and passes outside of an individual's estate. Life Insurance is not subject to inheritances taxes in PA. You raise the possibility of your brother being incapable of changing his designated beneficiary on his life insurance. That would be a very difficult case to prosecute. Sometimes you just have to let things go and move on, this could be one of those times.

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