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Currently seeking the a estate planning attorney in New Jersey.

Newark, NJ |

-Father was gravely ill and to the point where he couldn't move around to do anything for himself.
-He married a lady so she can receive her papers (wrong but he did). He made her P.O.A so she could get his meds and have access to bank account(s) so she could pay bills for the house and his business.
-I am assuming that since this was for "business" and not a real marriage there was a prenup between them. He was all about money and wouldn't have married her without having one in place as they would eventually planning on divorcing.
-Another reason I'm guessing he gave her P.O.A was because he wouldn't have place her name on the bank accounts as that would give her rights to the funds in the account(s).
-My father failed to let anyone know the attorney who drafted the will.

-And who has the will, but only the wife knows. -Now I am not sure how estate planning lawyers work when drafting a will but I am sure they will ask about prenups and other legal documents that would effect their client's estate. -Now the wife doesn't want to inform the attorney of the death of my father as she knows that she will get little or nothing. -She wants to hold out and wait for the state to come in and split up the estate so she will be able to get something. She knows that she won't get anything if the will as discovered. -She also signed over my father expensive vehicle over to her child. She knows she could get in trouble for abusing POA if it is discovered the vehicle was left to someone in the will. -She is probably still using funds from the accounts which is wrong because POA isn't valid. I am wondering if an attorney would be able to provide a service to search for the lawyer who has the will. The family is guessing that he hired a estate planning atty in Essex County NJ.

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Attorney answers 4


I believe you have posted on these facts before. You are laboring under a number of misconceptions and it is clear that you need to see a probate attorney who can explain to you how things work. The State is exceedingly unlikely to come in and do ANYTHING with this, whether you wait for a month or 5 years. Whether there was a Will or not, it may have ZERO effect on the amount that your stepmother receives as an inheritance. If the assets are titled in joint names or with her as beneficiary, then she would receive the entire estate, regardless of a Will OR a Pre-nup. (Most pre-nups have provisions allowing the parties to hold title jointly or with beneficiary designations.) In the absence of a pre-nup, the wife can choose to elect to take against the Will, and she would likely be entitled to a number of other allowances and exemptions.

The ONLY way you have any reasonable chance of getting to the bottom of this is to consult with a probate attorney, right away. Posting on this site will not do you any good. You do not have enough information for anyone to give you a confident answer. You have lots of guesses and assumptions, most of which appear to be highly questionable.

Your father certainly could have done a much better job of planning his estate, as well. Unless you were estranged from him, he should have kept you much more in the loop, to avoid this kind of situation. It is more his fault than anyone else's, in my opinion.

You badly need a lawyer to help you investigate further.

James Frederick

*** 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.


You make a lot of assumptions. However, people often do things they shouldn't and don't do things they should. Case point - getting married for a reason that may not have worked. A lawyer should have discussed a prenup, but there are many that don't. The most troubling thing for you is that your father should have talked to you about his wishes and let you know where he kept his will. He should have let you know the name of the attorney who drafted. Face it, he left you a mess. If you can't find the documents, his wife will get over one-half of the estate. Run, do not wak, to hire an attorney.

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As both attorneys have spoken to the merits of your situation, the only point to reiterate is that you need to get with an estates litigation attorney today!

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With Court involvement, it will be possible to get his bank records and then hopefully locate the drafting attorney, find out what was drafted, etc. Without Court involvement, and without cooperation from the Widow, it seems you will be stuck.

This response is an opinion only and should not be considered as legal advice. Use advise at your own risk. No attorney client relationship has been established. If appropriate, you may reach the undersigned at the telephone number in the profile. Thank you.