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Question about estate and probate claims. Kind of long.


Sweets
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Second Update as of Sept 2:  We did consult our probate and estate lawyer, who basically warned us against signing anything until he had a chance to review the wills and trust set up by my father. He was concerned about the pressure being put on my sister and I by my father's stepchildren to sign so they can sell the house. The closing on the house was extended to Sept 8, and they want the signatures today. I have been bombarded with calls and texts and emails for my sister and I to just sign the papers and have referred them all back to the lawyer. It has made me sick with stress. How dare these people just invade my life like this, when really I don't have a dog in this fight. My father's estate was valued at over $3 million, I found out, through the lawyer, and his only two biological children (my sister and I) were left out of the will by my father's choice. We did know this already though so it's not like it's some kind of surprise to me. The state of Texas is also requiring two witnesses that can attest to the veracity of the situation concerning my father's marriage, children, and divorce from my mother. So, I had to spend a whole afternoon tracking down relatives I had lost contact with over the years. Mainly cousins my age (60s) because it's been well over 45 years since my parents divorced and uncles and aunts have passed away. I found two cousins on my father's side who were willing to help me out, but the stories I heard made me sick. I knew how my sister and I were treated, but to hear he treated my cousins (his neices) so cruelly was heartbreaking. When I reached out to my mother's side of the family to see if they would be witnesses, I was blasted by them. (Look, we love you and your sister, but we won't lift a finger to do anything for D-- your dad, even if he is dead.) So, I'm just waiting to hear from the lawyer and ignoring texts and phone calls. I cannot believe how this has escalated over some property in Texas. Thanks, for listening. And please, go get your wills made up. My father had a will and trust but apparently it wasn't done properly, which has left his stepchildren in a hell of a mess. 

 

UPDATE:  Thank you everyone for your advice. I got busy today and just now checked the boards. I talked this over with both my spouse and my sister and we all agreed that we need to get a lawyer. We live in Tennessee; the house and step-kids are in Texas. It's not that I have a lawyer currently, so I need to find someone in Probate and Estate Law. And of course, it's not free, but we feel that this is such an odd legal situation that we definitely are not qualified to just make a decision without counsel so it's worth the cost. It also is a stab in the heart once again from my father. He literally left us nothing, not a cent in his will, and I have no doubt that if the sell of the house could go through without our agreement then the two step-kids would not have contacted us at all. And honestly, I expected absolutely  nothing after I heard my father had died, and I did not even think about contesting a will. So, now I have to face this issue once again. Sometimes I feel like that 16-year-old girl still and traumatized by my parents marriage and divorce. I thought it was all over. I'll update in a week or so to let you know what advice we received. Thanks again. Can't post about this on Facebook!

 

Hello, I post here only rarely, but I did have a situation that I have absolutely no idea what to do. I am hoping someone might have had some experience in this bizarre situation.

Long story but I'll try to shorten it up:  My parents divorced in 1976 when I was 16, my sister (only us two kids) was 17. It was a bad divorce. Parents tried to kill each other basically, so I'll just leave it at that. My mother left the state and I went with her. My sister tried to live with my father, but he remarried and kicked her out. My sister joined my mother and I in the other state. I never saw my father again; only talked briefly on the phone in 1995 when my greatly loved grandma passed away. My father remarried, raised two step-children, and became a greatly loved grandpa. Unfortunately, my mother passed away from cancer in 1986. My sister and I went on with life, and between us we had seven children and no word whatsoever from our father. I reached out from time to time but no response. In 2012, my father had a heart attack, and I get notified but basically chose not to respond. Then, after he recovered a bit, I get a letter in the mail typed by him that was pretty vicious and hard to see that the hate still festered after all these years. I wrote back, but no response and then received word through a cousin that my father passed away in 2013. 

So yesterday, I get a call from one of the step-sons that he raised. My father's second wife had died in 2020, and they were trying to settle her estate. Turns out my sister and I were excluded from the will (no surprise) in an estate trust. The two step-children want to settle the trust and split the funds two ways. But the problem is the house. Somehow, the house was left out of the trust, and now they are trying to sell it. The title is not clear, because under the state law where they live the proceeds of the house sale need to be split between all heirs - which is the two step-kids, and my sister and I. They cannot sell the house without our permission and information about my father's side of the family (marriage to my mother, with two verifiable witnesses that my parents were married). The title company sent me some papers to provide the information. They want this by Tuesday, in order to close on the sale of the house. They are urging me to get this to them quickly. None of the papers are legally binding towards a will or information proceeds of the house. They just are papers pertaining to clearing the title of the house in order for the sale to go through.

So, I don't know what to do. Just sign it and hope they split the proceeds? I don't need the money but my sister sure does. The house is for sale for $399,900, so a sizeable amount. Should I hold up the sale and consult a probate lawyer? I doubt I can contest the estate trust. I know my father had a relatively sizeable estate. I've been very emotional about this whole situation, and I got another phone call asking me to just sign the papers because the new owner's contract ends on Tuesday and they don't want to lose the sale. But these are strangers to me, and I want to protect myself and my sister (who is in poor health right now so I'm handling this for her). Any advice?

Edited by Sweets
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Oh I am so so sorry this has been thrust upon you.  I would not sign anything without consulting with an attorney.  If you and your sister have a legal right to a portion of that home I would definitely take it.  No reason to even feel bad about it.

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My step sister had a similar situation.....her mother died.  Then her maternal grandmother died.  The remaining kids of the grandmother thought they would get the house completely...but AR law says the deceased child's heirs (my step sister and step brother) are to get that share to divide between them.  

They wanted my step sister and step brother to just sign away their rights.  

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Definitely consult a lawyer. I think if I were in this situation and I knew my sister needed the money and you guys were legally entitled to it then I would certainly try to get it and no I wouldn't feel bad about it. The sons are getting plenty from the estate.

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I would definitely not sign anything without talking to an estate attorney. It's not your fault that they left this to the last possible minute. Maybe they even did it on purpose, to try to pressure you to just sign the papers without having time to find out what your rights are.

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I have a weird distant family story like yours. The heir signed something simple for the step sibling, "Hey, can you sign you sign for the moving truck?" Then the step sibling used that signature to started forging the heir's signature on all kinds of documents.

At this point, believe that no one is telling the truth.

You need an attorney in the state that the house is located. Maybe post the state and someone here can suggest an attorney.

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