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cg1lbert

Statute of Limitations on Legal Recourse of estate

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My father died in December, 2006. In February, 2007 I received an email from my stepmother requesting the legal names and social security #’s of myself and my adult children. She told me it was my grandmother’s intention to put our names on some POD bank accounts since my father had passed.

 

In June of 2010, my grandmother died. A week after I emailed my stepmother regarding the POD’s (I still have these emails). She informed me that nothing ever came of it and that there were no accounts in my name. She was getting ready to go to Germany to visit her family and said she would talk to me when she got back. I never heard from her again. There was no will. It was my impression at the time that everything went to my uncle.

 

My stepmother died Oct. 30 of this year in an accidental death. My brother called to inform me. As my brother and I continued talking (we hadn’t talked in years) I found out that my grandmothers estate was divided between my uncle, my brother, and my stepmother. My uncle received 360,000, my brother 180,000, and my stepmother 180,000.  

 

My stepmother knew of my grandmother’s intentions to put me and my adult children on some of the bank accounts. I know for a fact that my grandmother would not have wanted any money to go to my stepmother as my grandmother always talked about “blood”. She considered those married into the family as outsiders.

 

Is it too late to sue my grandmothers estate, and can I sue my stepmothers estate? Is there anything at all I can legally do?

 

Edit: I should also mention that my grandmother's house is in question as to legal ownership. Something to do with my grandparent's tenancy by the entirety ending when they divorced...the house is currently under my father's name, my uncle's name, and my grandmother's name. The entire probate estate of my deceased grandfather is missing in archive. I and all of my deceased father's legal heirs were asked to sign quit claim deeds leaving my uncle as sole owner. I refused and the house is now being rented by my uncle.

Edited by cg1lbert
Added information.

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What you have to understand is that you father's intentions while he was alive, and what anybody "knew" about them, are meaningless and unenforceable if that person didn't make proper arrangements with a POD, TOD, written will or trust while he was still alive.

 

Now start answering questions one by one.

 

1 - Did your father have a will?

2 - With our without a will was his estate probated?

3 - Or was everything owned jointly with your stepmother with right of survivorship?

4 - How was HIS house titled when he died (not how it's titled now)? You can look that up in the county records. Quote it word for word when you find out.

 

When you have answered those question, I'm sure that further conversation will ensue.

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1 - Did your father have a will?

No.

2 - With our without a will was his estate probated?

No.

3 - Or was everything owned jointly with your stepmother with right of survivorship?

Correct

4 - How was HIS house titled when he died (not how it's titled now)? You can look that up in the county records. Quote it word for word when you find out.

My father's house, or my grandmother's house?

 

HIS house was titled under his wife's name (my stepmother) at the time of death.

 

My grandmother's house was titled as follows at the time of my father's death and currently:

Owners Name:  Doe John R Bill W Jones Nancy J

Uncle (Doe John R), Father (Bill W), Grandmother (Jones Nancy J)

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31 minutes ago, cg1lbert said:

HIS house was titled under his wife's name (my stepmother) at the time of death.

 

Were you adopted by your stepmother? If not, then you have no claim to her estate unless she had a will that left something to you.

 

32 minutes ago, cg1lbert said:

My grandmother's house was titled as follows at the time of my father's death and currently:

Owners Name:  Doe John R Bill W Jones Nancy J

Uncle (Doe John R), Father (Bill W), Grandmother (Jones Nancy J)

 

Does the deed say anything else about the ownership? Like "right of survivorship", "tenants in common", something else? Or does it just list the three names without specifying type of ownership?

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This is where it gets muddy, so bear with me.

 

Grandmother and grandfather were divorced in May 1963. Grandfather died in October 1963.

The marital home was bought in June, 1959. 

 

In October of 1974, my grandmother signed a quit-claim deed that stated the following:

Nancy J. Jones, for and during her lifetime with full power in her to sell, rent, lease, mortgage, encumber, or in any manner dispose of the hereinafter described property, and with the remainder as to any part not disposed of by Nancy J. Jones during her lifetime, to vest in Bill W Doe Jr. and John R Doe as joint tenants with right of survivorship, and not as tenants in common <plat info>.

 

Now, I understand what this means - that after my father died, the entire property would go to my uncle.

 

HOWEVER, there was an Order Approving Final Settlement and Order of Distribution filed in January 1976 that states Upon examining and considering final settlement and petition for an order of final distribution, filed herein 1/16 1976 by XXX of the above estate (Bill W Doe Sr., grandfather) the Court approves any and all decree of partial distribution previously made in said estate, and approves the aforesaid final settlement, and finds that there is no personal property for distribution. The court further finds that the decedent at the time of death appeared to have an interest in the following described real property <Plat info>. The court further orders that all of the right, title and interest of the decedent in and to the above described real property , subject to any lawful disposition thereof heretofore made, be assigned, transferred and distributed to, and all of the right, title and interest of the decedent thereto vested, as of the date of death of decedent, in the following named persons in their respective interests as follows: To: John R Doe and Bill W Doe Jr. in equal shares.

 

I was made to understand that since the decedent had an interest in the property at time of death this would automatically make the tenancy between my uncle and father common tenants instead of joint. 

 

I am trying to obtain the entire probate estate of my grandfather, and the divorce decree.

 

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Did all of these deaths occur in Missouri?

 

It is too late to "sue" the estate but you still need to find out what has happened with grandmother's estate.

 

You or your attorney will need to look at grandmother's probate file to see how the estate was handled, if it was done properly and determine whether your father was named in a will as a beneficiary or whether there was no will and whether your father had any rights to inherit an intestate share of the estate or not.  Also look at the file to see whether an executor's bond was posted/purchased or whether there was an exemption of that requirement in the will.

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On 11/21/2018 at 3:27 PM, cg1lbert said:

Is it too late to sue my grandmothers estate, and can I sue my stepmothers estate? Is there anything at all I can legally do

 

Any relevant statutes of limitations relating to your grandmother's estate have certainly (since your stepmother apparently was living in Germany when she died, I cannot offer you any information about German law).  It's also not clear what you'd be suing for.  Even if your assumption about what your grandmother would have wanted (it is not a "fact") is correct, that doesn't mean you were entitled to anything.  You can have an attorney look at the eight year old probate regarding your grandmother's estate (if it even was probated), but I wouldn't hold out any hope.

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20 hours ago, pg1067 said:

 

Any relevant statutes of limitations relating to your grandmother's estate have certainly (since your stepmother apparently was living in Germany when she died, I cannot offer you any information about German law).  It's also not clear what you'd be suing for.  Even if your assumption about what your grandmother would have wanted (it is not a "fact") is correct, that doesn't mean you were entitled to anything.  You can have an attorney look at the eight year old probate regarding your grandmother's estate (if it even was probated), but I wouldn't hold out any hope.

It was not probated.

She visited Germany after the death, she did not live there.

 

Thanks

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On 11/22/2018 at 6:34 PM, knort4 said:

Did all of these deaths occur in Missouri?

 

It is too late to "sue" the estate but you still need to find out what has happened with grandmother's estate.

 

You or your attorney will need to look at grandmother's probate file to see how the estate was handled, if it was done properly and determine whether your father was named in a will as a beneficiary or whether there was no will and whether your father had any rights to inherit an intestate share of the estate or not.  Also look at the file to see whether an executor's bond was posted/purchased or whether there was an exemption of that requirement in the will.

Yes, all in Missouri.

She did not have a probate file.

 

Thanks

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2 hours ago, cg1lbert said:

It was not probated.

 

2 hours ago, cg1lbert said:

Yes, all in Missouri.

 

Ok, so your grandmother died without a will in Missouri in 2010.  She was predeceased by your father but survived by your uncle.  You didn't mention any other siblings of your father, so I'll assume none existed.  You indicated that the net value of the estate was in excess of $700k (either that or the people who received estate assets somehow got away without paying estate debt), which was divided between your uncle, your brother and your former stepmother.

 

How it is that these folks managed to take possession of and divide such a significant estate without probate proceedings is beyond me (especially if the estate included real estate).  However, the estate should have been divided between your uncle (50%), your brother and you (25% each).  The stepmother shouldn't have gotten anything.  What does your brother have to say about this

 

As for your former stepmother's estate, your not entitled to anything from it, but it's conceivable that you could sue her estate for the share of your grandmother's estate that she received that should have gone to you.  However, since she wrongfully obtained that share 8 years ago, I still think it's unlikely that you could overcome the applicable statute of limitations.

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Was it a county court probate courthouse employee who told you that your grandfather's probate file was missing from the archives?  What type of explanation were you given as to why the file was missing?

 

If there is any indication in the January 1976 Order Approving Final Settlement and Order of Distribution of the name of the attorney or personal representative who was involved with this transaction, then try to contact the attorney or personal representative who handled your grandfather's probate.  The attorney or PR may be able to shed some light on how this estate was handled.  If the attorney's name is not on the document you have, you should be able to find out from a probate court employee (ask them to check their records indexes) of which attorney was involved and which judge's court the probate hearings were held in.  If they won't or can't give you that information, find out from a local attorney or from a local public library or law library if there are back issues of legal newspaper ads for 1976 that you could check to find out the probate case number and attorney's name for that estate.

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4 hours ago, knort4 said:

Was it a county court probate courthouse employee who told you that your grandfather's probate file was missing from the archives?  What type of explanation were you given as to why the file was missing?

 

If there is any indication in the January 1976 Order Approving Final Settlement and Order of Distribution of the name of the attorney or personal representative who was involved with this transaction, then try to contact the attorney or personal representative who handled your grandfather's probate.  The attorney or PR may be able to shed some light on how this estate was handled.  If the attorney's name is not on the document you have, you should be able to find out from a probate court employee (ask them to check their records indexes) of which attorney was involved and which judge's court the probate hearings were held in.  If they won't or can't give you that information, find out from a local attorney or from a local public library or law library if there are back issues of legal newspaper ads for 1976 that you could check to find out the probate case number and attorney's name for that estate.

 

No, it was an attorney for my uncle who told us. Several years ago his attorney sent us (myself, my brother, my stepsister and stepmother) quit-claim deeds for the property in question "just in case", which I refused to sign. I don't believe anyone signed them. I talked to an attorney and paid to get more information as to where I stood on the property. He went back and forth with uncle's attorney in emails about the estate and what documentation had been obtained. She said the probate file "buried" somewhere in the archives and that my grandparents divorce decree was silent on the matter (but she never offered that document to us either). I'll be checking this for myself and locate the documents if I have to go there myself and do the search.

 

I checked the Order Approving and there is indeed an attorney's name. Thank you for this information, I think I have enough now to go forward and at least give it a try. I'd like to do as much of the leg work as possible to cut down on lawyer's fees. I will at least be filing a petition to determine heirship as far as the house is concerned.

 

 

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On 11/26/2018 at 6:35 PM, pg1067 said:

 

 

Ok, so your grandmother died without a will in Missouri in 2010.  She was predeceased by your father but survived by your uncle.  You didn't mention any other siblings of your father, so I'll assume none existed.  You indicated that the net value of the estate was in excess of $700k (either that or the people who received estate assets somehow got away without paying estate debt), which was divided between your uncle, your brother and your former stepmother.

 

How it is that these folks managed to take possession of and divide such a significant estate without probate proceedings is beyond me (especially if the estate included real estate).  However, the estate should have been divided between your uncle (50%), your brother and you (25% each).  The stepmother shouldn't have gotten anything.  What does your brother have to say about this

 

As for your former stepmother's estate, your not entitled to anything from it, but it's conceivable that you could sue her estate for the share of your grandmother's estate that she received that should have gone to you.  However, since she wrongfully obtained that share 8 years ago, I still think it's unlikely that you could overcome the applicable statute of limitations.

I have a message in to my brother, thanks for this information. 

 

As to the real estate, my grandmother signed a quit claim deed in 1974 keeping full power in her lifetime with her 2 sons as "joint tenants with right of survivorship", however the January 1976 Order Approving Final Settlement and Order of Distribution of my grandfather I believe negates that (A good indication no lawyers were involved I would think, because neither my grandmother nor uncle knew about this?) When my uncle tried to get the house in his name, his attorney was unable to get a clear title because there was no clear chain of ownership and hoped we (my father's heirs) would sign quit claim deeds. None of us did to my knowledge. So I'm guessing because they believed the ownership of the real estate was nailed down, it was exempt from the probate. 

 

Seeing that there was no will, and no probate, do statutes of limitations apply?

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