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Whendidee

Wills and Real Estate

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My mother died in 2003 WITHOUT a will. My stepfather stated in a court document, at the time of her death, that she had only two living heirs; my stepfather and their son, my half brother. I wrote a letter to his attorney disputing this document, with no reply. (She had remarried back in the late 1970's and had one child with my stepfather.)

At this point, my stepfather is in bad health. He just stated to me that all contents and his and my mother's home, according to his will, will be left to my half-brother ONLY. The property is still listed at the PVA office as (exp:) DOE, John and Jane EST. Can he leave my mother's half solely to my half-brother and leave me out of my mother's half of the property and/or real estate?

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I wrote a letter to his attorney disputing this document, with no reply.

 

I assume you did this in 2003 (or maybe 2004), shortly after you received a copy of the document that your stepfather had filed.  Correct?  In addition to writing to the attorney, did you also file something with the court contesting your stepfather's statement that he and your half-brother were the only living heirs?  Sounds like you didn't.  If so, what happened as a result?  If not, why not?

 

 

 

The property is still listed at the PVA office as (exp:) DOE, John and Jane EST.

 

Huh?  First of all, I have no idea what "PVA," "exp" or "EST" mean.  Second, I think you might be saying that title to the home was never transferred out of your mother's name following her death and that title still stands in both your mother's and step-father's names.  Is that correct?  If so, how do they hold title?  As joint tenants?  Tenants in common?  Tenants by the entirety?  Something else?

 

 

 

Can he leave my mother's half solely to my half-brother and leave me out of my mother's half of the property and/or real estate?

 

I don't really know what you mean by "my mother's half of the property and/or real estate."  Absent really unusual circumstances that I assume you'd have mentioned if they existed, your mother's estate was probably administered and closed over a decade ago.

 

When your mother died, her probate estate should have been divided, with your step-father getting half the estate and you and your half-brother sharing the other half.  If that didn't happen, it's almost certainly too late to do anything about it now.

 

The one exception might be the house, but it depends on how you clarify the relevant facts and answer my questions.

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For clarification, please answer pg1069's questions and also mention what state is applicable here.

It's a shame that the attorney neglected to respond to you--you probably automatically assumed that he should have informed you about aspects of this estate, but what you don't realize is that he probably was biased towards the stepfather, perhaps since stepfather probably got the lion's share of this estate and the attorney probably didn't care about your interests. Did you receive anything from your mother's estate? Too bad that the attorney didn't tell you that you should have hired the services of your own probate attorney if you had questions about the estate.

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re: pg1067: Yes, I did write the attorney in 2004. No, I didn't file any documents with the court. First of all, I didn't know I had to file papers with the court after her death. Also, I assumed that my stepfather and half-brother understood my mother's desire of wanting me to receive half of certain figurines, antiques and real estate upon both their deaths. He and she both had stated so several years before her death. Unfortunately, I suppose I trusted him to follow through with her wishes.

 

re: pg1067: PVA: meaning Property Valuation Administration    exp: meaning for example   EST:  meaning Estate   -----   They hold title as owners in entirety. He still lives there.

 

 

re:  knort4:  I'm in the state of  KENTUCKY.    I still have received NOTHING from my mother's estate. And I still don't understand how he can file a probate document (I'm assuming it was) stating that her ONLY LIVING HEIRS are him (my stepfather) and my half-brother. Wouldn't that be illegal, even to this day? Especially when he dies?

 

No, the attorney NEVER contacted me after receiving my letter nor would he return my calls regarding my mother's estate. By the way, he knows our entire family personally, so he knew the statement was false.

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Yes, it was illegal for him to omit your name from the heirship list.  That is a serious violation.  You will need to consult with a probate attorney to find out what recourse you may have, if any, since a statute of limitations might be applicable.

 

Your attorney will also need to look at all of the documents in the probate file to review exactly what has happened.  It seems that Kentucky law allows for 1/2 of the estate to go to the surviving spouse, and the other 1/2 to the children, which means you should have gotten something from the estate.  But only after a sufficient review by someone actually looking at the probate documents can a determination be made.

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No, I didn't file any documents with the court. First of all, I didn't know I had to file papers with the court after her death. Also, I assumed that my stepfather and half-brother understood my mother's desire of wanting me to receive half of certain figurines, antiques and real estate upon both their deaths. He and she both had stated so several years before her death. Unfortunately, I suppose I trusted him to follow through with her wishes.

 

Well...you didn't "have to" file any papers following your mother's death.  Presumably, someone should have probated her estate, and it would typically be the surviving spouse that handles that.  However, we're now 12-13 years later.  If nothing happened in terms of dealing with her estate after a couple months or even one year, a reasonable person would start asking questions and taking legal action if appropriate, and that's even more so in light of the document you received.  As far your mother's "desire of wanting [you] to receive" certain property, that is legally meaningless since she didn't make a will.

 

 

 

They hold title as owners in entirety.

 

Then he now owns the entirety of the property.  That's what happens when a married couple owns property in that manner and one of them dies, so we can assume that this is the result your mother intended by taking title in that manner.  Therefore, the home is his to do with as he sees fit.

 

 

 

I still have received NOTHING from my mother's estate. And I still don't understand how he can file a probate document (I'm assuming it was) stating that her ONLY LIVING HEIRS are him (my stepfather) and my half-brother. Wouldn't that be illegal, even to this day? Especially when he dies?

 

You don't understand how he did it?  The only logical possibilities are that he did it by filling out a form on a computer or a typewriter or put pen to paper, but I suspect that's not really what you intended to write.  If your intent was to ask how he got away with it, the answer is that you let him get away with it.  You admittedly knew about this document that contained false information, but you took no action to challenge it or object other than writing a letter.  It's not like the court had some way of independently ascertaining the truth or falsity of the document.  It would only know about it if someone challenged it.

 

Obviously, it was legally improper for him to make a false representation about heirs (and that doesn't change over time or because of his death).  However, your failure to take appropriate action at the time or at any reasonable time after you became aware of what had happened, you are almost certainly now without recourse.

 

However, by all means, consult with a local probate attorney about this.

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