Both of my grandparents passed this year, one in January and one in May. My father is deceased, and my grandmother said in the past that I would be entitled to 1/3 of her estate, my father's portion (I'm an only child). I have 2 aunts, one is executor and has not contacted me yet, and my other aunt will not answer questions about what is happening with their house or estate. Because I am a descendant am I legally entitled to a copy of the will even if she took me out of it? ( I am not close with my father's side anymore). I don't know what steps to take to protect my share if they are trying to hide it from me. I know it is a felony not to contact me if I am in it, but is there an amount of time she needs to contact me within?? How do I find out if I am even named in it?
This is best answered by a NY attorney, because this is a very specific law that could change widely from state to state. But you may find it helpful to know that in CA the executor or administrator of the will, when they file the initial petition for probate, must notify every person named as a beneficiary in the will and every person would be an heir at law if the decedent died without a will. That being said, if a probate has been opened anyone is entitled to see a copy of the will - it's a public record. You can contact the courthouse where the probate is open and ask how best to request a copy.
There are a lot of unknowns in your situation. What does the estate consist of? Was there real estate? If there was real estate, you can check the county records to determine how the property was titled. If the title was in your grandmother's or grandfather's name alone, (because you did not mention who died first), then probate would be required in order to transfer title, now. If the property was joint with your aunts, then probate would not be necessary for the real estate, but there might be other assets that would require probate administration.
I am a Michigan attorney and not licensed in NY. In Michigan, once an estate is open, the Personal Representative has 28 days to give notice of appointment to the interested parties. I am sure New York's Surrogates Court has a similar requirement. You should check with the court in the county where your grandparents resided to see if an estate has been opened for either one of them. If so, then you would be entitled to copies of whatever has been filed. If not, then you need to investigate further.
If all of the assets were in joint names or had designated beneficiaries, then those provisions take precedence over the terms in any Will. It could therefore be possible for the Will to provide that you take 1/3 of the assets, but that you would not receive anything because the assets all passed outside of probate.
Once you have gathered all of the information on this that you can get, you should meet with a probate attorney to decide how best to proceed.
*** 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.
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