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One family member wants it all. No will.

Discussion in 'Estate Administration & Probate Court' started by Fed Up With Family, Jan 13, 2021.

  1. Fed Up With Family

    Fed Up With Family Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
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    My brother died. Has no spouse and no children. There are SEVEN surviving siblings, but ONE wants all his goods. She manipulated my brother into penning a letter he left in a security deposit box saying "You can have it all, Special Sister"...but he has no will. What are our rights?
     
  2. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    If that is literally all that was in the "letter" then it means nothing.
    How much "stuff" are we talking and what is the dollar-value of the "stuff"? (A guess is fine)
     
  3. Fed Up With Family

    Fed Up With Family Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Maybe a few hundred thousand in IRA/Annuity/Life Insurance. Not a fortune, but she already took the car, al the cash in the house, the material possessions, etc. etc. etc. He was a renter, so no home.
     
  4. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    IRA/Annuity/Life Insurance products usually have a named beneficiary who would receive the proceeds. If they don't, then they, generally, would revert to the estate of the deceased. Probate should be opened.
     
  5. Fed Up With Family

    Fed Up With Family Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Let's say, for simplicity, she was named beneficiary for everything (because you can't put SEVEN people on a document (but you intended fairness)...Can we contest these policies? Is it worth it? She's coming after me for the $40K or so I owed him - can I hit back?
     
  6. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    If she was named as the beneficiary on everything, then everything is hers. She can't "come after you" for a debt you owed to him on her own. She would have to open probate and do it on behalf of the estate, since your debt would be owed to the estate. Once the debts of the estate are paid, then any remaining funds would be paid the beneficiaries of the estate.
     
  7. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    If she is named as the sole beneficiary of those financial accounts then she'd get those funds and would not have to share it with the other siblings absent a court order to the contrary. Trying to get such an order is very difficult though perhaps not impossible. It would be extremely important to know what evidence you had of his intent that she was named beneficiary simply to act in the role of splitting the money among all the siblings.
     
  8. Fed Up With Family

    Fed Up With Family Law Topic Starter New Member

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    This is all amazing advice. Though, I do have the letter which says everything goes to "special sister" AND ME...but my name was crossed out and replaced with another sister (so visibly clear, it's hysterical). Again, no will. Granted, all of his legal money (accounts/IRAs) just list her as beneficiary. But...if she comes after me for the $40K I owed him, can I use the aforementioned letter (with my name crossed out) as "some" proof of intent? ...and emphasize that she "poisoned" him into crossing my name out? ...which I could pen a NOVEL about the level of insanity and deceit she aired during his last few years of life. So much so, the other SIX aren't speaking to her, either! Such drama!
     
  9. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    When you say that one of your siblings "wants all his goods," what does that mean? "Goods" is a bit of an odd word to use in this context? Also, are either or both of your parents still living?

    Well...there's a possibility that this letter could be construed to be a will.

    Like everyone else, you have dozens of legal rights, and it would serve no useful purpose to try and create a list.

    Any of you or your siblings can seek to probate your deceased brother's estate. I suggest you consult with a local probate attorney. For reference, can you estimate the gross and/or net value of your brother's estate?

    The life insurance policy(ies) should designate beneficiaries. The IRA and/or annuity may also designate beneficiaries. If they do, they aren't part of his estate and wouldn't be subject to any will or the law of intestate succession.

    How much cash was in the house? How did she gain access to his home to take the other stuff? How long ago did your brother die?

    First of all, you certainly can "put SEVEN people on a document" (i.e., name seven different people as beneficiaries). Second, anyone can contest anything. Do you have a valid basis to contest any beneficiary designations? We have no way of knowing. If, in fact, he designated only one of his seven siblings as beneficiary, that fact alone is not a valid basis to contest the designation.

    What does this mean? In what way is she "coming after [you]"? If you owe money to your brother's estate, then the person appointed by the court to serve as administrator of the estate would have standing to sue you on behalf of the estate. Has she been appointed by the surrogate's court to serve as administrator? If not, she has no standing to do anything about your debt to the estate.

    By the way, if you owe the estate $40k, then you likely don't stand to benefit at all unless the estate has a net value greater than $280k, so it might be in your best interests to let this go and hope none of your siblings is appointed as administrator and sues you.
     
  10. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    I considered that, too, but since NY was given as the state that's very unlikely because NY only recognizes holographic wills made by military members while in combat zones. So unless this "letter" was properly executed and bears the signatures of two witnesses it would fail as a will. As letters tend not to have witness signatures, I'm going to guess that this will fail to qualify as a will.
     
    Zigner likes this.

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