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lulu1974

Statute of limitations now that petition submitted

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We submitted a petition that claimed that one of our family members has unlawfully withheld the family's estate for 8 years. We thought such claim was founded because there was no document in the court nor had she produced one to the family verifying this right. As soon as she received our petition, she presented a document that supposedly gives her the right to everything. However, we believe there are several forged signatures in all of these documents, including the one that gives her everything. She is now requesting discovery materials and depositions of the rest of us.

Since we do not have the money to pursue the forgery at this time, we had hoped to save money and then continue pursuing the matter. However, because of her recent request, our lawyer is recommending we file a non-suit so they drop their requests and we do not incur any more costs from him, and he has told us that we may have a statute of limitations to pursue the forgery because we have now made it known to her and to the court that we suspect her right to the estate, but he does not know how long we have(he has not been a very good lawyer).

Do any of you know if there is a statute of limitations to pursue the forgery? Do you know how filing non-suit will affect any petitions we file in the future? If we file non-suit, will the current petition stay in the court records or will it be like we never filed it? Did we waste time and money filing the current petition?

I would appreciate any information, advice, or feedback.

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You don't say why you sat back for eight years, but that's a problem. You also don't say who this family member is (I presume not a spouse).

"We submitted a petition that claimed that one of our family members has unlawfully withheld the family's estate for 8 years."

At first blush, I figured you meant you filed a petition asking for distribution of the estate, but reading on, I gather not.

"We thought such claim was founded because there was no document in the court nor had she produced one to the family verifying this right."

Sorry, but this is a bit garbled. If no will had been filed and no probate case ever opened, then I'm not sure who advised you to file this petition vs. a determination of heirship. I believe the statute of limitations to file a will for probate is four years, so I'd be talking to a DIFFERENT attorney about filing a response to this woman's assertions about this document/will reminding the court that if she wanted to file it/expecting the whole estate, she ought to have filed it at least four years ago. Did the attorney tell you that in Texas the time limit to open a probate case was X years and this is the only way to address it?

On your end, the simple remedy to address this would have been years ago for someone to file intestacy/died without will paperwork and asking to be appointed administrator of the estate. If there were a will giving one person everything, such a filing would flush out that will.

Given your post's details and what this attorney is telling you, personally I'd consult with a different one. If someone commits forgery, that's a criminal act and you may refer the matter to law enforcement. I'm not clear whether you ought to be asking the court for leave to amend your petition or simply challenging the validity of this will being produced.

"Since we do not have the money to pursue the forgery at this time...."

Not at all what you mean here. Again, not sure why attorney isn't focusing on invalidity of will and/or the fact that it was produced far too late and a determination of heirship to heirs at law ought to be made.

"Do any of you know if there is a statute of limitations to pursue the forgery?"

You're free to ask local law enforcement.

"Do you know how filing non-suit will affect any petitions we file in the future?"

I presume you've asked your lawyer enough questions to know that if you pull out now, you're effectively saying your filing was nonsense.

"Did we waste time and money filing the current petition?"

Possibly, but again, if I were you, I'd consult with a different attorney.

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There was no will. A living trust was established when our grandfather was ill and this aunt was the trustee (with forged signatures). When grandpa died, she proceeded to make decisions and tell the rest of the family that she had the right to do so, and the estate was never probated. Some of my aunts and uncles consulted attorneys at that time, and they were told that it would be too expensive to fight this aunt on the matter, plus they have always been scared of her.

When I returned to the state after living abroad (grandpa died when I was living abroad), I went to the county clerk and looked at all the documents, and realized that the documents establishing the trust had forged signatures, and consulted an attorney myself. He said that because a living trust was no longer valid after a person's death, and there were no documents filed that established my aunt had a right to the trust, the attorney thought it was best to pursue fraud. However, when we filed this fraud petition, we found out this aunt had a document stating grandpa left her what was in the trust - this signature was also forged.

Does this additional information clarify the situation a bit more? Any more info/advice you can provide?

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