Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in New York

Left Out Daughter

My father pasted away some time ago, my stepmother has yet to offer me a thing, but has given her family (brothers and son) my fathers belongings. I have been waiting patiently for a phone call or something to tell me of what my father wanted me to have and still nothing (I am my fathers only child). I am not sure if my father had a will, she has never reveiled that info to me, but would like to know if I have some legal rights to something. Please help!

Asked on 9/19/03, 1:53 am

5 Answers from Attorneys

Arnold Nager Arnold H. Nager, Esquire

Re: Left Out Daughter

If your dad had a will, you should have been asked to sign a waiver of citation or been cited. In the absence of that, it is likely that, there was no will, or everything was owned jointly with your stepmother, or the value of property in your father's name alone was less than $50,000.

You should probably look for a filing in the Surrogate's Court in the county where he lived.

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Answered on 9/19/03, 7:37 pm
Andrew Nitzberg Andrew Nitzberg & Associates

Re: Left Out Daughter

My condolences for your loss. This must be very difficult for you.

There is often friction in this situation, but that is no excuse. If there is no will, then as a surviving child you have a right to a percentage of your father's estate. The children's share is split up between the children evenly. Only blood-children and adopted-children have this right to share.

If there is a will, then you have a right to know its contents. And it must be submitted to the court for probate.

Speak to an attorney. You have rights and it does not seem that your step-mother will be seeking you out to vindicate those rights.

You are welcome to a consultation for no fee at my offices at 42 West 44th Street, NY,NY. Please call for an appointment first. (646)591-5786 or (718) 729-2029

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Answered on 9/23/03, 1:27 pm
Darren Inverso Norton, Hammersley, Lopez & Skokos, P.A.

Re: Left Out Daughter

you may have legal rights if you were a beneficiary under his estate.

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Answered on 9/19/03, 7:13 am
Frank Lang Lang Law Firm PLLC

Re: Left Out Daughter

If your father was a New York State resident,and died owning assets that needed to go through probate, your step mother would have had to open an Estate in Surrogate's Court in the county where your father resided. You can contact the Surrogate's Court for that county and ask if an estate was opened for him. If so, and if he had a Will, it will be on file there. If he died without a Will, New York Law provides that the first $50,000, plus one half of his estate, goes to his current spouse, with the other half to his children.

If you father owned everything jointly with your stepmother, or named her as the beneficiary of his insurance policies and retirement accounts, it's very possible that nothing would need to go through probate and would go to your stepmother by operation of law.

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Answered on 9/19/03, 8:13 am
Daniel Clement Law Offices of Daniel Clement

Re: Left Out Daughter

In the absence of a will, your have 50% interest in the estate. If you have a will, the will controls. Either way, the estate need be administered/probabted in the Surrogate's Court of the county in which your father resided. If your step-mom disposed of assets improperly, she will be made to account.

You should consult with an attorney.

Daniel Clement

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Answered on 9/19/03, 10:40 am

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