My father passed away 11 years ago. My half brother told me that he left everything to my stepmother and that when she passed away we would split whatever was left. My father was an excellent provider and made quite a lot of money over the years. I never saw the will although I had requested to see it. After my father passed I elected to have no contact with my stepmother as she had abused me throughout my life...consequently I ended up have no contact with my half brother. I just recently discovered that my stepmother died a couple of years ago.
What kind of attorney do I contact to at least view the wills...and do I have any legal rights to any part of the estate...or am I out just completely out of luck? I would rather not have any contact with my half brother. He is a pretty slick, big whig, financial advisor so I imagine if things could be all sewn up in his favor they probably were.
I should add here that my father was having dementia issues during the latter part of his life so I do wonder when his last will was signed...or if he even had one.
A Florida estate planning attorney is most appropriate. Provide that individual with all contact information for your half brother. Typically, when a spouse passes away, survivor succeeds by operation of law to the deceased's estate, unless there is special planning done by the deceased and spouse early on. Those are the types of inquiries to be made to your half brother. Also, a phone call inquiry to the county probate court where your step mother resided last can be done by you to see if any probate action occurred for either your dad or step mother. Good luck.
This commentary does not result in any attorney/client relationship nor constitute legal advice as to a particular fact situation or status of a reader. Consult and retain legal counsel in the State of Michigan for pursuit of such a relationship.
An estates and trusts attorney. I might suggest getting in advance all of the details ready you can (e.g., names, dates and places of death, etc.).
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The simple answer is that you would need a probate litigation attorney to handle the issues that you're presenting.
The longer answer is that you are going to have some very big hurdles to clear to ever be able to recover any assets. There are going to be substantial statute of limitations concerns along with the difficulty of proving any mental incapacity or fraud if you elect to go that route. You also can't be certain that he didn't just it all to your step-mom legitimately, at which point she can do whatever she wants with it.
The will itself is going to be public record in the county where they resided, if it was ever filed for probate. However, if they never filed the wills or if the will was destroyed, then this becomes much more difficult.
If you do decide to contact your half-brother, he may be able to give you some information or documents that clarify the matter for less than the price of an attorney, but you may not be happy with the answer.
I wish you the best in your search.
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I am sorry that you find yourself in this situation. Unfortunately, with your father's passing more than a decade ago, it will be difficult to determine what his assets were at that time unless a formal probate was opened. That is, if he owned everything as "joint tenants with right of survivorship" with your stepmother and/or had her as the beneficiary of all of his accounts, all of his assets passed to her without the requirement of formal probate. If, however, the will was filed for probate, it would be a public record and available at the probate court in the town or city where your father resided at the time of his death. Thus, your first step is to go to the probate court and see if there's a will there. If so, please have it reviewed by a Florida estate attorney. Good luck to you.
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