What can I do if my father’s original Will was not found in his personal papers?

My father resided in New Jersey. He passed away in April, 2017. His last Will and testament stated that he left all property, valuables, money, etc. to his neighbor and neighbors girlfriend. I’m his only living child. My father and I have not spoken for many years. I moved to ID 25 years ago and my only sibling at that time was killed in a hot and run accident. The

Asked on September 13, 2017 under Estate Planning, Idaho


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss and for the situation as it stands.  When you say "Original Will" do you mean one  other than the Will that was offered for Probate?  Or are you referring to the one that was offered for Probate but does not have his original signature?  First understand that you can indeed disinherit a child in the state of Idaho BUT that there has to be a specific statement in the Will that says it. You can not just levae a child out.  That sets off a lightbulb to the court that a person may not know "the object of their bounty" meaning their heirs and that they could possibly not be of sound mind or being unduly influenced by others.  While I do not know you or the situation it sounds as if the neighbors may have had a shady hand in all of this.  When you tried to contact your Dad did the neighbors intercede?  Maybe prevent him from recociling with you?  Was he sick in the end?  When was the Will made out?  Is it possible he tore it up becuase he had a change of heart?  While I understand that a Will contest is expensive and you do not have the money for it, I would seek legal counsel on just a flat rate basis as to what steps you could take to filing an objection to allowing the copy of the Will in to Probate and alleging Undue Influence.  They should have sent a copy of the Will being offered and bring that with you.  They have a lot to prove to have a copy entered in to Probate and it may just be the opeining you need to challenge them.  This may lead to a settlement as well.  Sign nothing until a lawyer reads it.  Good luck.

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