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CalAttorney2
CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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Death and Probate Question New York: My father who was a

Customer Question

Death and Probate Question New York: My father who was a pastor of a church that my grandfather founded in Jamaica New York (New York City) just died this morning at 7:00 AM. He has had someone handling all of his financial affairs and accounts for years.
I as his daughter have no knowledge of any of this and also his care taker hid items from me as she enlisted him in social programs of which she told the agencies he has no family. I came to be with him 2 1/2 years ago and his caretaker said I could not stay
in the church apartment because my father would loose his benefits. My father was very ill and has been on dialysis undergoing kidney failure and needed the funds. He also had another person handling money for him out of state. The church building and parking
lot was to belong to my father but we are unsure of what they had my father sign. At this time we do not know what to do as now all who have been controlling his money are not speaking to the family. How and what do I do?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Dear Customer,

Please accept my condolences for the passing of your father.

Unfortunately what you describe is very common in cases of elder abuse (financial elder abuse), where individuals such as caretakers and other fiduciaries get an elderly person to agree to transfer control or ownership of their assets to others.

Unfortunately to deal with this problem you really need to hire your own attorney (and the earlier you do so the more likely your odds of recovering these assets). Look for a trusts and estates, or a probate attorney, with experience in litigation and elder abuse.

You can find local attorneys using the State and local Bar Association directories, or private directories such as www.AVVO.com; www.FindLaw.com; or www.Martindale.com (I personally find www.AVVO.com to be the most user friendly).

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for the start. I do not have any money for an attorney. I just got food stamps and public assistance and am undergoing eviction. Because of my father's condition I wish that I had explored my resources previously but thought there was none. Can you give me direction about legal aide in the state of New York for these matters?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The person who has been working with my father notified my sister of my father's death. One of my sister's is married and lives in Virginia. The reason she was notified is that according to her the police stated that if a person dies under a home care agency it needed to be investigated.I told the person who was involved with taking care of the body that I was on my way to see my father and she moved the body to the funeral home before I got there.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Since my father did not leave a will how do we designate an executor of his estate as a spokes person for the family?
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Dear Customer,

If a person dies without a will, their assets will pass through "intestate succession" (see: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/intestate-succession-new-york.html)

The New York Courts have some very basic information on how to deal with probate matters, here: https://www.nycourts.gov/courts/nyc/surrogates/faqs.shtml, but based only on what you have posted, I am willing to speculate that you have a very complex matter that you are going to have to deal with (secreting your father and his assets away, refusing to notify you of his condition, or his assets, refusing to notify you of his death, etc. etc. are all strong indications that there is potential fraud or elder financial abuse which has occurred).

I cannot tell you for certain that this is the case, but I would encourage you to at least meet with a local attorney to discuss your matter. Your local bar association is your best resource for referrals.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The health care worker said that she had a will and said that he left everything to her. She has a signed document that says last will and testament.
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Those kinds of wills (leaving everything to the caretaker) can usually be challenged as being signed with "undue influence" but again, you are going to want to speak to an attorney about this, it isn't something you can easily do on your own.

If you do insist on doing it yourself, plan on spending a lot of time in the local law library, look specifically for probate law practice guides (books used by attorneys to help with strategy tips, commonly used legal authorities, and templates for commonly used moving papers).