What to do if my brother died without Will 6 years ago and his wife of 6 months never probated the estate?

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What to do if my brother died without Will 6 years ago and his wife of 6 months never probated the estate?

He had 1 child from previous marriage. The widow, on 2nd day after my brother’s burial, brought some of his possessions to hide from first wife. Now 6 yrs later I received letter from his wife’s attorney saying return all items and money for all items sold. We don’t mind returning all, even though the intent was to sell the items to give to his only child for college next year. How do we avoid any further legal action after returning what we have. No inventory was taken at time that the items were brought to me by his wife.

Asked on April 30, 2013 under Estate Planning, Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You need to show this letter to a probate attorney.  Generally, the statute of limitations is four years to probate an estate.  Sometimes there are exceptions or other avenues to get back into probate court.  You want to make sure that one of these exceptions does not apply to you.  The other issue you need guidance on is who to actually return the item to.  If wife number 2 wanted to hide assets from wife number 1, then there's a reason.... and that reason may not be kosher.  The property you are holding may actually belong to Wife 2 and you could be returning the items to the wrong wife... or becoming a party to some type of fraud action.  Make a list of the items you have and take a copy of the letter to your own attorney.  From there, they can give you more specific advice on who to return the property to, if anyone.


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