Who is entitled to this Inheritance?

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Who is entitled to this Inheritance?

A family member died with no Will. This person has no surviving direct family members surviving, no aunts or uncles. My mother is the only first cousin but she is not mentally able to understand anything and is in a state care facility. She has been mentally unstable since I was 5 years old and I’m now 60 years old. A law firm has reached out to me and my 2 bothers and they said that she is the only surviving first cousin. However, she is not capable of understanding what and inheritance is or even capable of signing anything. They are saying that me and my 2 brothers have no say. Does this sound correct. The estate is 1.2 million and it looks like this law firm is going to give it to the state. Can my brothers and I do anything about this?

Asked on June 24, 2019 under Estate Planning, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

That does not appear to correct. A mental incompetent heir or beneficiary can still inherit--it's just that the money will be under the control (not given to; just controlled by, for the mental incompetent person's benefit) of her legal guardian, conservator, or someone with a Power of Attorney over her affairs. The money will essentially be put into trust for her benefit, managed by the person with legal power over her. You and your siblings should contact your own attorney about this, to confirm her rights and then look to putting the right structure into place (and taking other legal action as necessary) to make sure the money goes to your mother and can be used for her.


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