My father died several years ago & I was incarcerated. My step mom & he were separated when he died & she said he changed the original will. She produced a piece of paper that said he left her in charge & she knew how to distribute his possessions to his children, but she never did. I have tried to contact her & she won't respond. She has liquidated everything & kept every bit of money from liquidating everything & the life insurance policy. Is there a way for me to at least get a piece of land that haa sentimental value to my siblings & I if it's still in his name?
Do you know whether your father's will was probated? Have you seen a copy of your father's will? It is likely that if your father drafted a new will that he may have left his estate to his wife. If the will did not specificially list you as a beneficiary, it will be difficult proving your father left you the piece of land you are interested in. The life insurance policy would have had a designated beneficiary which would have been paid to the named beneficiary upon your father's death. Schedule a consultation with an experienced probate attorney in your area to discuss your situation and possible recourse.
Your options depend in large part on how much time has passed. If it has been more than four years since your father passed, you would have a hard time convincing the court to open an administration.
It sounds like your stepmother did not probate the estate. She may not have had legal authority to liquidate things, no matter what paper she had. There may be a theft charge in there somewhere. Sit down face-to-face with a lawyer to discuss.
This answer DOES NOT establish an attorney-client relationship. This answer is based on the limited information provided and is not intended to be conclusive advice. There are likely other factors that might influence or change the advice after a more lengthy consultation.
A Will must be probated to have any affect. So, regardless of what that "paper" said if your stepmother did not probate the Will then it means nothing. Wills must be probated in the county of the deceased person's residence at the time of death. It is public record. In Tarrant County you can search for probate through the county clerk's website. That would at least tell you whether or not the Will was admitted to probate. A will must be admitted to probate within 4 years of the date of death or it cannot be probated. If there was no Will and if the real property you reference was owned by your father before his marriage to your stepmother or was inherited by your father, then ownership of it passed to his children equally upon his death. You will still have to do a determination of heirship proceeding in probate court. Bottom line, you need an experienced probate lawyer but there is at least the possibility that you and your siblings can recover the land.
DISCLAIMER: This is not specific legal advice and does not establish an attorney/client relationship.
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