Thank you for using JustAnswer. I'm sorry to hear about your situation, and my condolences on your loss. You're the best one to gauge the relationship between your grandmother, your father, and you. If you feel that there's true resentment and you feel that there might be some sort of fraud, etc... perpetrated by her, then that might be a good reason to get a lawyer. Furthermore, if she's in possession
of documents that belonged to him at the time of death, she does have an obligation to turn them over to a legally designated administrator / executor of the estate. If he didn't have a will at the time of death that designated an executor, or you are that executor, you would be "first in line" to serve in that role. But you would still need to file for probate to actually "force" her to turn over any documentation that she does have. Now as a practical matter, if you're the only beneficiary
(or the first beneficiary) of the life insurance
, only you can claim it. You can "agree" to split it (just don't have it in writing) and then claim duress if she actually comes after you for the split. She can't claim it if she's not the beneficiary. If there's no listed beneficiary, then probate would have to be opened anyway to designate an executor / administrator that would then be able to claim that amount. IF you can't work it out on your own without a lawyer, you'd need to get one. Now one need not be a lawyer to serve as an executor, administrator, or guardian. However, the executor, administrator, or guardian must be represented by counsel. As executor of a decedent’s estate, you don’t represent only yourself. An executor represents the interests of beneficiaries and creditors. This responsibility to act for the benefit of another is known as a fiduciary relationship. It gives rise to certain legal obligations and responsibilities that require legal expertise. The attorney you hire represents you in your capacity as executor and assists you in representing those for whom you are responsible. The only proceedings you can handle as a pro se are those in which you truly would be representing only yourself. For example, a pro se applicant may probate a will as a muniment of title
when he or she is the sole beneficiary under the will, and there are no debts against the estate other than those secured by liens against real estate. This procedure can be a viable option in some situations, but not in others. That being said, you need to contact other attorneys in your area that deal with probate cases. Go to www.lawyers.com or www.legalmatch.com to find an attorney in your area. You should be able to find one that will give you a free initial consultation and better advise you of your rights, any problems with your case, likelihood of success, how courts are treating cases such as yours in your area, and what you should do next. Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. Please note that I don't get any credit for the time and effort that I spent on this answer unless and until you rate it positively (3 or more stars). Thank you, ***** ***** luck to you!