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Siblings in Probate

Discussion in 'Estate Administration & Probate Court' started by JC77, Dec 2, 2019.

  1. JC77

    JC77 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
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    Hi

    My brother passed away. Our parents are already deceased and he has no wife/children - he also has no will.

    should be fairly simple to go through probate since Im only next of kin, however, a few years ago someone contacted us on facebook and said she was our half sister. She has no proof of this - no birth certificate etc as she was raised by her grandparents with their last name. I accepted her story since my father was long deceased and she is the daughter of his highschool girlfriend....

    However she has no relationship w my brother other than one or two meetings in person after the age of 30. She didn’t even come to his funeral...

    I am reading that if she is a sibling she is entitled to half his estate which I know he obviously would not have wanted. My brother and I spent our entire lives together and were the only family we thought we had left until she messaged us... is she truly entitled to half his life savings?

    thank you.
     
  2. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    If she is is sister (yes, even half-sister), then she is legally entitled to whatever is spelled out by the intestacy laws in New Jersey.

    EDIT: Of course, she will need to be able to prove her claim. I don't know the value of your brother's estate, but it's possible that it might be cheaper to simply pay her off than it would be to fight it. Speak to a local probate attorney.
     
  3. JC77

    JC77 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you. His estate is around $100k. A lawyer is 300-400 an hour so I feel I would squander it if I just give her half...

    What kind of proof should I ask for? She has no birth certificate with our fathers name so would it be a blood test?
     
  4. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    It really depends on how thorough you want to be. As the administrator of his estate, you have a fiduciary duty, so keep that in mind. If you would be convinced by a home DNA test, then go for it. Many years ago, I had a more "official" test done. In essence, it was the same test that a court would order, but it wasn't actually court-ordered.

    I would suggest that you, at the very least, consult with an attorney.
     
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  5. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    I would immediately cease all communication with the GRIFTER/SCAMMER.

    Don't allow someone to bully you out of what is legally yours.

    Probate the estate, ignore the SCAMMER.

    These days a birth certificate proves nothing.

    There is no way for the SCAMMER to prove she's related to your brother or you, unless you FOOLISHLY give her your genetic material.

    If she wants to take the matter to court, that's on her.

    She shouldn't know where you live, unless you've blabbed.

    Live your life, don't communicate with FAKE BOOK conartists.
     
  6. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Sorry, but what he wanted is meaningless since he didn't properly arrange for it. Now the estate is subject to the law of intestate succession.

    You still have to open probate and be appointed by the court as representative of the estate. You have statutory obligations to notify creditors and other heirs.

    Are you a listed beneficiary on any of this accounts? If yes, that money is yours and you don't have to share it with anybody.

    Beyond that, it's up to you whether you ignore the situation and risk litigation or give her the opportunity to take a DNA test.
     
  7. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    The OP already accepts this person as his sister, he just doesn't think it's fair. If the OP probates the estate (which would be necessary for him to get anything), then he will have a duty to properly deal with all claims against the estate. The OP should not just ignore this matter, except upon the advice of an attorney that he hires to represent him and/or the estate.
     
  8. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    When?

    I assume that the plural pronouns "us" and "our" refer to you and your brother. Correct?

    Since your brother was apparently aware of this woman's claim, if he didn't want her to share in his estate, then he was free to make a will to ensure that result did not obtain. By not writing a will, he is presumed to have wanted the result that obtains from the application of the intestate succession laws, which would put siblings (whether full or half) on equal footing.

    If, in fact, this person is your and your brother's half-sister, then she is entitled to half of his net estate (whether that equates to "half his life savings" isn't something I can discern from your post). You are, of course, free to seek to administer your brother's estate as though this woman didn't exist. However, if you do so and fail to give her notice of the probate, then you would be at risk of being sued personally. I suggest you consult with a local probate attorney to determine how best to deal with this by forcing this woman to establish her relationship to you and your brother.

    We don't know what communications you've had, but you told us that this woman contacted you out of the blue claiming to be your father's daughter and that you simply accepted her story. You didn't say why you accepted her story (you wrote that your father was long dead and that this woman was a child of a high school girlfriend, but I have to believe there was more to it than that). In any event, only a NJ attorney is going to know what would be required under NJ law, but I assume DNA tests are such that your and her DNA could be compared either to disprove the claim or verify it to some degree of certainty. If $100k is the net value of the estate, I would say it's at least worth a consultation.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019
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  9. JC77

    JC77 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    To clarify- He died at 44 years old. Suddenly. Hence why he had no will. He was day trading stocks which is where he has money. Not a home owner. No 401k.

    Why did I not challenge her story? She lived far away and she wasn’t asking for anything except to meet us. I was in my early 30s and not thinking of things like estates etc.

    I reached out to her and told her we needed some sort of proof to list her as a sibling on probate papers and she said her birth certificate says ‘father unknown’ so she will send me a copy as proof that she doesn’t have a different father and should be on estate?

    I have two daughters and my brother was a daily part of their life... while he didn’t plan well I imagine he assumed whatever he did have would go to his sister and his nieces... if he ever even thought about these things.
     
  10. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Active Member

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    That no father is on her BC is by no means proof that your father was her father.
     
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  11. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    It bears repeating: Speak to a local probate attorney.
     
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  12. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    This is the 21st century, my friend.

    A birth certificate means nothing, other than the birth parent claiming some dude was the daddy, or unable to declare which dude did the deed.

    A birth certificate proves or establishes nothing.

    As there are no other living relatives to substantiate her story, even IF she believes your father is her father, it is in everyone's best interests to ask that she take a DNA test supervised by you and a laboratory certified to conduct such tests.

    She'll also need you to submit to such a test, to establish whether her assertions result from Senator Elizabeth Warren-Like "family tales & rumors".

    You should also speak to an attorney to make sure you act according to your state's laws.

    That said, should you choose to merely accept "claims and assertions" relative to "siblingship", I'd like to hone in on this gravy train, too, brother!

    Where do I submit my claim so that I can get my share of our dearly departed brother's estate?

    Be smart, don't act upon assertions and claims, only upon PROOF.
     
  13. JC77

    JC77 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I did- he said for $400/hour he would represent me.
     
  14. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Talk to several other attorneys.

    Seek and you shall find one that is capable and willing to represent you for less money.
     
  15. JC77

    JC77 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Why cant I file to be the administrator and if she comes forward then ask for dna test... why do I have to initiate it?

    she didnt bat an eye when he died.. wasnt asked if they could or could not turn the machine off... didnt offer to help w his 17k in funeral expenses... didnt even attend his funeral but now its on me to prove shes not his sister? Or ask for proof... where I am from a sibling shows up when your in the hospital... a sibling writes your eulogy... a sibling gets handed the folded american flag and a sibling sits for hours w a momument company designing a headstone worthy to bear your name.... my brother passed on July 15th and I have sufferred every single day since in his abscence. It isnt the money. Its the principle. I cant do nothing I get his mail every day and I see his statements. I am paying his phone bill so I can call his voicemail now and then.... this on top of everything is just salt in the wound
     
  16. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Keep looking - don't be penny wise & pound foolish here.
     
  17. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    You can certainly do just that.

    You have no obligation to accede to her demands.

    You are far more kind and charitable than i would have been.

    Had this grifter attempted to insinuate herself into my life, I'd have shooed her away.

    However, some flies and roaches won't be shooed away.

    Your interloper might be a determined varmint hellbent on stealing your brothers leavings.

    You can wait and watch in silence.

    If the varmint appears demanding some of this and lots of that, you can then retain an attorney champion to vanquish her.

    In the meantime I'd be interviewing potential candidates to serve as my champion.
     
  18. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    For the benefit of anyone else who might read this thread, this is not a reason not to have a will. The possibility of sudden death at a young age is one of the many reasons why a person might want to have a will.

    Despite your use of a question mark, this sentence is not a question. If you intended a question, I cannot discern what you intended to ask. That said, a birth certificate that says "father unknown" is not evidence (much less "proof") of anything.

    I don't really understand this question. As I mentioned in my prior response yesterday, you are free to seek to administer your brother's estate as though this woman didn't exist. However, if you do so and fail to give her notice of the probate, then you would be at risk of being sued personally. If you do that and give her notice that you are doing so, then the burden would be on her to challenge your assertion that you are the only heir under the intestate law. How exactly you do that procedurally is something about which only a NJ probate lawyer will be able to tell you.

    Again, this isn't a question, and I'm unsure why you think this. No one who has responded in this thread has suggested you have the burden of proving a negative and, indeed, you have no such burden. If you seek to administer the estate and do not identify this woman as a sibling and do not give her notice of the proceedings, then you're essentially hiding the ball and would be at risk. On the other hand, if you assert that you're the only heir but give her proper notice, then she has the opportunity to come forward and claim that she is an heir, at which point she, not you, would have the burden of proof.
     
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  19. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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    This is very true. My girlfriends 29 year old, apparently healthy, brother died of heart failure (undiagnosed condition) while sitting in bumper to bumper traffic on Tobin Bridge.
     
  20. JC77

    JC77 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I appreciate the reply.. and see the difference.. Since she is clearly saying she is a sibling I need to inform her I am filing as only ‘known heir’ with intestate and then she has notice and can react.

    It’s just ironic - she never asked how much his funeral bills were- doesn’t know or care to know where he is buried. I am just venting. I know from a legal standpoint whether you loved someone or not means nothing.

    thanks for the advice.
     

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