I have an aunt that passed away last month and her mental state of mind is in question. We are her only blood relatives. She left her belongings/money to a step niece. She has not disclosed information to us because she is the beneficiary. She does have a signed Will but my aunt was in the hosp. at the time and we feel she was not legally able to sign anything. She didn't know if she had a pacemaker when asked, thought the vice pres. was Gore and thought George Brett was still playing baseball. Can we legally request information about her assets? Is any of this information public record? The Will before this last one left everything to us.
You will need to consult with a probate attorney to determine what evidence you have that she was not capable. The question isn't who is vice president. The question is who is your family? What are your assets? Do you understand that if you give everything to this person, that person gets nothing? The other hurdle is to find the assets. If titles were jointly owned, that may be more difficult. Discovery of assets is something that can happen in probate, but keep in mind that you will need to put up money for your attorney and court costs. You need to consider your time, money and effort compared to what your aunt's estate contained (or how much you want to stand on principle).
This answer is for informational purposes only and should not be considered specific legal advice, nor does it constitute an attorney-client relationship.
The first question is, have you hired a good lawyer? You need an experienced litigator who can determine what if any assets were left in your aunt's name alone on her date of death and then to determine if you can line up witnesses to prove the step niece exercised undue influence to get the assets put in her name and alot of other issues.
Legal disclaimer: This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted to practice law in the State of Missouri only, and make no attempt to opine on matters of law that are not relevant to Missouri. This answer is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation, and is for promotional purposes only. You should never rely on this answer alone and nothing in these communications creates an attorney-client relationship. less
More information is really needed before being able to answer your questions. The later Will is PRESUMED to be valid, unless and until PROVEN otherwise. You are going to need fairly strong evidence to overturn the Will.
To give you an example, in one case I had, the testator was in the emergency room, in shock, she did not have her glasses and was legally blind. She did not have her hearing aids and was legally deaf. She either had morphine administered right before or after signing the Will. She was intubated and could not talk. The attorney claimed that she had "read the Will" to the testator and she squeezed her hand that she understood. But the Will was littered with typos and made reference to a husband. (The woman was not married). This Will was prepared by the testator's hairdresser's attorney, and left everything to the hairdresser, completely changing the prior estate plan and completely excluding the woman's caretaker. After "signing" the Will in front of the lawyer and two staffers from the law firm, the woman lapsed into a coma and was dead within a week. EVEN in those extreme circumstances, the Will was upheld. That is what you are up against.
You are going to need strong evidence to overturn this estate plan.
I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in the subject area in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state.