What to do if my brother refuses to give me a copy of my father’s Will and is removing assets from the estate?

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What to do if my brother refuses to give me a copy of my father’s Will and is removing assets from the estate?

I am a 53 year old disabled divorced father of 3. My father passed away about 6 weeks ago. I have been estranged from him for 10 years. I have 2 other brothers both of whowere on good terms with my father at the time of his passing. I have email contact with my sister-in-law who told me about myWfather’s passing and the fact my father’s will was made 11 years ago, a time at which my father and I were on good terms (she was told this by my brother). As I am not on speaking terms with my family, how do I find out if I am still included in my father’s Will? I estimate my father’s estate to be around $400-600K. I have requested a copy of the Will from my brother but he has not responded. Also, my brother is signing checks, removing items from the house and has yet to file any probate papers with the court. He does not plan on doing so because he knows I have limited funds for a lawyer. What can I do?

Asked on January 19, 2012 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

Joseph Gasparrini

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

My name is Joseph Gasparrini.  I am a lawyer in Stamford, Connecticut.  My work includes estates and probate matters in Connecticut and New York.  Under the laws of the states that I am familiar with, the person who was designated as executor in a Will is required to file the original Will with the Probate Court (in New York this is called the Surrogate's Court) within a specified period of time after the death of the person who wrote the Will.  Based on your explanation, it seems that your brother may be acting as executor of your father's estate.  If he is acting in that role, he must have been appointed or confirmed as Executor by the Probate Court.  And if he was appointed or confirmed by the Probate Court, this can only occur if the Will was filed with the Probate Court.  And if the Will has been filed with the Probate Court, it is a public record.  If you would like further advice on this matter, you can call me at 203-968-8830 during business hours - Eastern Time.  However, I cannot give free legal advice.  I can assist you after we discuss terms of payment for my services.


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