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A first cousin died and I was told that I will receive a letter to sign off on.

Medford, NY |

My cousin passed away 3 weeks ago. I'd like to know if I'm entitled to receive any inheritance, he was never married and has no children. But a third cousin was his power of attorney for he paid the deceased rent, aide that lived and took care of him and all expenses that needed to be paid. Being that I was told that I'll receive a letter to sign off on, should I sign off on something that I did not see or do not know what I'm signing off on. Does this mean I should be entitled to something?

Yes my cousin has a will. I don't have a copy, and don't know what's in the will. But yet I'm asked to sign off on it. Don't know what to do?

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Attorney answers 4


Under the circumstances-do not sign anything until an attorney has reviewed the document
and has advised you accordingly.

The answer given does not imply that an attorney-client relationship has been established and your best course of action is to have legal representation in this matter.


Bring the will to an attorney to review before signing anything. Insist on having a copy of the will before you sign the document.

If this answer is helpful, then please mark the helpful button. If this is the best answer, then please indicate it. Thanks. For further information you should see an attorney and discuss the matter completely. If you are in the New York City area, then you can reach me during normal business hours at 718 329 9500 or


Mr. Pippen and Mr. Lutzky give you good advice. And as a universal rule, never sign anything where you "do not know what I'm signing off on."

None of us here on avvo can advise you as to whether you're entitled to any share of your cousin's estate, without having (at the very least) reviewed the will and reviewed your family tree. If the will is valid and names you as a legatee, then you will receive something under the will; if there was no will (or, similarly, if there was a will that is denied probate because it is not valid and genuine), then you would receive a portion of the estate only if you are a "distributee" -- determining that cannot be done without having an understanding of the relatives who survived your cousin.

As for the third cousin who served as your cousin's attorney-in-fact pursuant to a power of attorney, you should understand that powers of attorney cease at the time of the death of the principal, so it is quite irrelevant who had served pursuant to a power of attorney.

Good luck to you.

Michael S. Haber is a New York attorney. As such, his responses to posted inquiries, such as the one above, are limited to his understanding of law in the jurisdiction in which he practices and not to any other jurisdiction. In addition, no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to constitute legal advice, nor to constitute the existence of an attorney/client or other contractual or fiduciary relationship, inasmuch as rendering legal advice involves the ability of the attorney to ask appropriate questions of the person seeking such advice and to thus gather appropriate information. In addition, an attorney/client relationship is formed only by specific agreement. The purpose of this answer is to provide the questioner with general information, not to outline specific legal rights and remedies.



Thank you for the information, just like to know what happens if I can't get a copy of the will. Or how do I get a copy of the will?

Michael S. Haber

Michael S. Haber


A copy of the will can be obtained either from the attorney for the estate or from the Surrogate's Court in the county in which the will is being probated.


I agree with my colleagues. I would simply add that, without knowing what you are being asked to "sign off" on, it is possible that all it is is a consent to admit the Will to probate and have an executor appointed. You should not assume that you are being asked to give up an inheritance, when you have not even seen the document in question. Once probate is open, you will be entitled to a copy of the Will, if you are an interested person.

You should not sign anything you do not understand without seeking legal counsel.

James Frederick

***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ***************************************** LEGAL DISCLAIMER 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 your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state. I hope you our answer helpful!

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