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RayAnswers, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 40689
Experience:  Texas lawyer for 30 years in Estate law
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My 92 y.o.mother and I have been estranged for approx. 1.5

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My 92 y.o.mother and I have been estranged for approx. 1.5 yrs. She is now apparently on her deathbed. For as long as I can remember she told me that she had helped both my 2 brothers out financially (alot of money over the years in both cases) but when she died "everything I have goes to you (me)" and just prior to that she gave me $50,000. when a cd came due. She had lived with another brother and his wife, but it did not work out and she moved out-into an assisted living facility. I was helping my mother to find alternate living arrangements and organize her paperwork, etc., and suddenly she apparently thought my oldest brother (her absolute favorite and the oldest child) should be her power of attorney, and not ME which was a main part of why we became estranged. It hurt me deeply - and this was just the last straw in our relationship which was always strained and clearly, she trusted (and adored) only 1 of her 3 children. About 6 mos. ago I was tipped off by my brother's wife (the brother with whom I am very friendly and his wife) that she had rec'd a phone call from my brother's EX-wife that the "assisted living place was going to be sending me a letter that they are concerned she is 'down to her last $60k" but I mentioned to her that the facility would not be coming after me for $ and the claim is bogus. (No such letter ever came). The sister in law who I detest is very close with my brother's ex wife (same brother who is poa was chummy with his ex in another state and his present wife who is one evil chick, is thick as thieves with the ex who, incidentally, claimed bankruptcy along with her present husband). Nearly a month after the $50K was given to me they began to pressure me via email to "give the money back, she should never have given that to you" but at the time my mother had in excess of $200,000. I found it curious that they were jumping the gun to get back this gift money from me, when she was far from her last dollar at that time. Though I was the only child she never gave any money to (and the brothers received hundreds of thousands when they had financial problems) this evil sister in law could not stand the fact that my mother had gifted me. I held onto the money, per an attorney's advice, due to the 5 yr. lookback/medicaid implication. That's the background info. My question is this. If what my mother had promised had not changed (in fact it was the ex sister in law who said the AL fac. was going to be writing me a letter but that any $$ left when my mother died would be mine - and that being said in the last 6 mos) and if there is indeed $ left in her accounts, can my brother hold that back from me when she dies? My mother was a master of deceit and did not want anyone to know any of her business-would not prepare a will, either. The only reason she agreed to give ANYone a POA was because she was forced to by the AL facility. I am sickened by the greed of this estranged brother and his vicious wife who clearly thought that anything my mother has left in the world should belong to them despite the hundreds of thousands they've gotten through the years Now it is crunch time and I wonder if my brother managed to convince my mother that my name on these accts. as beneficiary should be changed to theirs.

Thanks for your question and good morning.

Any funds here gifted to you are in fact unconditional gifts.The others would have no claim to them and you were wise to not return the funds.If you are a named beneficiary here of any accounts with right of survivorship the bank should contact you and allow you to obtain those funds.

You would need a copy of the death certificate.If you are aware of the specific institutions she had money in you may want to contact them yourself here to see whether you were named beneficiary.

You may also want to consider your own lawyer here to make sure that if she had a will that the others produce it and get it filed.The lawyer can also investigate the accounts on your behalf and otherwise legally force production of the information and will.

I appreciate the chance to assist you today.Please let me know if you have more follow up.Thanks again for letting me help you.

Lawyer referral to protect your rights.



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RayAnswers and 2 other Estate Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX I live in DE my mother lives in PA. Not sure if that is of any importance. I had been advised by an elderlaw atty. to yes, hold onto that $50k, but do not spend it, since Medicaid could withhold payment of nursing care using their formula to calculate how many months needed to lapse prior to paying-and then having the nursing home come after ME for the $$.


So, as you saying then that I do not have to pursue anything financially and it is the BANK who would be contacting me, if I am still beneficiary, correct? And that I would have to produce a death certificate too, correct? Do I contact the hospital or the courts to obtain a death certificate?

Yes you are correct the bank here should contact you if you are the named beneficiary here of say a surivivorship account.And you should order a death certificate just in case as the bank would need it.

You can order that here online..

And here is PA lawyer referral just in case..


Lorrie--I wish you the best here and am sorry you are having to deal with relatives that have mistreated you.I know it can be hard.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you very much. You have been very helpful indeed. I see that the states don't make much difference, so that is a good thing! Yes, the family dynamics can really be tragic, but I'm happy my conscience is clear. Thanks again!


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you so much, Ray. As it turns out, she died on Tuesday. All the typical family dynamics and drama, all of which I am not interested in the least as an active participant. I have no idea what transpires next, and from what I've gleaned via my children chatting with their cousins, she was broke. But she was a master of hidden agenda so it's anyone's guess what is clear between truth and fiction. I heard that you are no responsible for anyone's debts upon their death and also heard that the power of atty. ceases to exist when the person dies. I have a sneaky suspicion she did have a will. She balked at making one, and said she didn't want to deal with all that "legal stuff." But I remember years ago her going from one fam. member to another as the executor du jour. So assets remain to be seen. Thanks, Ray.

You are so welcome.I am sorry about her death.You can check here with county clerk here in say 30 days to see if a will was filed for probate.This would be public record.The POA ceases at death and you are correct only her estate is liable here for her bills if there is one filed.If she was insolvent then the creditors are out of luck.

I wish you good luck here in moving on from all of this.Overtime maybe you can remember the good times more and tha bad times less.Thanks so much for letting me help you.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

You're the best and I thank you wholeheartedly! My sincere gratitude. You will be highly recommended!

Thanks again i wish you the best here.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Well, the plot just thickened, Ray. Been contacted by a lawyer hired by the brother from whom I am sadly estranged. She already contacted my other brother (the one with whom I am friendly) and asked if he would accept a copy of my mother's will since no original can be located. She also left me a message on my machine today, apparently seeking the same acceptance of the will copy. With this much bad blood and friction in the family, I certainly am not feeling confident in accepting a photostatic copy of a will (that might not even be her last executed one) and may have been altered. The brother who was reached today said at first he would accept it-now that he has thought about it he is thinking as I am - no way should we accept this. My mother owned no real estate, so the only 'estate' would be either a few pieces of jewelry somewhere and cash in a bank. The whole thing is extremely fishy. In fact, it reeks.

Yes it sounds to me like there are other assets you don't know about.The lawyer is trying to decide how friendly probate will be or won't be.You certainly would not have to agree here to a copy of the will.They have to locate witnesses for the will which can be hard if they moved or deceased.

It is very possible with a lawyer you may negotiate a better deal or invalidate the will and take your chances under laws of intestacy.( no valid will).

I agree with you that you have no need to sign anything consider a local lawyer to present your interests in all of this and to seek a better deal.


I appreciate the chance to help you again.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Actually, she was a PA resident and died in PA too so, Ray, I have no interest in hiring a lawyer. I would rather take my chances under the laws of intestacy in PA. My other "friendly" brother feels the same way. We feel that there is something here that is not very kosher and that the existing will copy is stacked in the other brother's favor. When this lawyer calls, I will tell her to proceed according to the law in PA for intestacy which, I assume, means that whatever she had would be split amongst the 3 of us. It would be an irony to see my (friendly) brother end up with something in the end of this sad mess. Odd an original cannot be located since I was able to find every other document under the sun for my mother when she needed me too (including my father's army discharge, etc.) and she had a safety deposit box until the end. Guess you see where I am going with this. Something is fishy.

Yes they likely cannot find the witnesses they might have deceased or disappeared.In that case they cannot get it admitted to probate.Here are the PA laws of intestacy for you..

Thanks again for letting me follow up.Good luck here.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Ray-Do I understand you to mean that the witnesses on a will have to still be alive and/or around when the testator dies? For a fact, I know of the one witness-that would have been my dear cousin, who died last October. Her husband was initially called to see if he could find an original amongst her things, but he said he could not. This all makes me realize: we need to update our own wills and other papers of importance and get them into the proper hands for safekeeping when finished. Thanks so much, Ray, for your answers.

They would be forced to prove this up at hearing with witnesses because none of the signatures are original and would need the witnesses to authenticate and prove that it has not been revoked.These can be a real problem for them and it might not be admittted by the court.


Thanks again.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I just read the link you so kindly sent me, Ray. Very interesting. If I may, I would like to give you a follow up (it may be months!?) after this is settled. I am curious as to how it will all play out and I will keep you posted. Cannot thank you enough.

No problem thanks again.If you can leave a positive rating it is always much appreciated.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Got an email copy. It was signed, but still stamped copy, and it was witnessed by two people as well. I am waiting for the accounting of her assets to decide it I want to contest it or not. Of course, as expected, left all to #1 child, no surprises. DE atty friend mentioned when copy is contested the preparing atty. testifies as to the validity of it, copy or not, and then the judge decides. Nothing is filed as of yet. I've not received anything in the reg. US mail yet either.

Any time the original here is missing you may decide to contest it.And it is very possible if challenged the court rules it invalid.Remember the other side has burden to prove all of this up.You may have some good facts to present to contest it all.

Thanks for the follow up here.Good luck to you.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Well, about 3 wks. ago I mentioned that an atty my bro. hired called to ask my other bro and me if we would "object to the copy of the will" since no orig. can be found. She is asking this question via phone calls and again, today, she called to ask me if I objected (left a message on my ans. machine). I do not have funds to hire an atty. and I am not even sure if I want to accept this or object, without even knowing what her assets are. I thought that the court would make this decision, based on the intestate laws of PA, without there being an original of this will. My question is: am I obligated to state one way or the other if I will accept or reject? Her voicemail says she want to go ahead and "file this copy of the will." I am not comfortable with her from a procedural basis either. Shouldn't these things be done in writing, with forms and signatures and not a verbal over the phone reply or an email?

You should respond to her here in writing in you are going to object.And you would need to file such objections with the court.The other side here has to prove up the will and certainly it is going to be harder.They are trying to get you to consent because they likely cannot prove it up.In that case it would be void and the estate passes under the laws of intestacy as you state.

If they get your written consent then it gets admitted by agreement.I don't think this necessarily benefits you to agree at all especially since there may be assets that have not been disclosed.

But I would respond here in writing either a letter or an email to the lawyer.And once they present it in court I would also write the judge arguing it is suspect and that you have real doubts it is in fact a true copy of the will.This might be enough to keep it from being admitted.

Thanks for letting me follow up with you today.
Thank you for your positive rating of my service to you. Let me know if you need more help or have future questions. I will be here for you. Just ask for me by name at the start of your question - "Ray" .

Best wishes and good luck to you.

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