You start by hiring an attorney. You don't know where to start, which means you don't know how to do this yourself. First thing you will need is a copy of your birth certicate and a copy of your driver's license. If you have these, an attorney can get a certified copy of the death certificate. He/She will then determine if a will exists, and who the executor is. If no will has been filed, he/she will know how to proceed. Please see my disclaimer.
If you'd like to discuss, please feel free to call. Jeff Gold Gold, Benes, LLP 1854 Bellmore Ave Bellmore, NY 11710 Telephone -516.512.6333 Email - Jgold@goldbenes.com
It's a little tough to follow your posting. So let's take a look at what is going on here. First, I want to completely disregard the religious and racial issues you raise -- not because I'm squeamish about talking about race or religion, but because none of it has anything to do with your father's decisions as to the extent he wished to leave assets to his loved ones.
The next thing I want to disregard is your brother's profession. That, too, has nothing to do with the issues here.
And I also want to disregard your statement that you were "threatened" by your father's other children. I'm not saying it is thoroughly irrelevant, but you don't say how you were threatened and, besides, you posted your question under "Probate," so I'm going to confine my response to estate-related issues.
Moving on, you were told that your father left you money. You don't know whether that was so. Thus, a bit of an investigation is in order. He could have left you money by naming you as a joint accountholder on a bank account, by naming you as a designated beneficiary on an account, or by titling an account as "in trust for" you. He could also have listed you as a joint tenant with right of survivorship on a deed or on a stock certificate. He could have named you as a beneficiary of a life insurance policy or of a retirement benefit. Or he could have named you in his will as a legatee.
You don't say how recently your father passed away, and so I don't know whether one could reasonably expect that any will would as yet have been probated. But a search could be done to see if any will has been offered for probate.
You say that your mom told you that your father's will "was changed." It would help if you would share all of the informaton she told you -- was the will changed in a way less favorably to you? When was it changed? How does she know it was changed? Who was the attorney-draftsman of the will? All of these are among the many questions that would be helpful to know the answer to.
I think you should promptly consult with an 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.
As the two attorneys before me indicated obtaining a probate litigation attorney would be wise.
Generally speaking Will's are public documents. Call your local County Surrogates Court and ask for a copy of the Will. If a Will was filed they should be able to release it to you or provide additional guidance.
Disclaimer: The foregoing answer does not constitute legal advice, is provided for informational and educational purposes only for persons interested in the subject matter. Each situation is fact specific and may be subject to state specific laws. Without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem fully. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. No Tax Advice - Circular 230 Disclaimer - Any information in this comment is not intended to constitute a comprehensive and complete tax consideration analysis, and may not be used by the taxpayer to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency, nor for the purpose of promoting, marketing or making recommendations to other persons on any tax-related matters.
I am a NY lawyer. I think all of the prior answers raise good points. What does your birth certificate say? This is vital to establishing standing in the estate. If you can not prove your story, you lack standing to object to the will - based on anything. This doesn't mean that if you make a pest of yourself, you won't be able to shake something out in the form of a settlement with a confidentiality agreement. I would consult with a lawyer.