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Category: Estate Law
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A 67 (+/-) year old male friend died in a Houston, Texas hospital

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A 67 (+/-) year old male friend died in a Houston, Texas hospital on 28 June 2013. He had no known living relatives. He was an extremely private person. Several of us who knew him for up to 30 years believe he had served a 6-year tour in the US Air Force during the Vietnam war. We have slowly and painstakingly learned his SSN and DOB -- and that his estate consists of a condo he owned, a car, and a retirement account.

The hospital where he died apparently only had his wallet, home and car keys -- no other documents. They turned the body over to the funeral home that has a County contract for pauper burials. It has been embalmed, and presumably will be buried as a pauper since nobody has produced documentation of his veteran status.

We, the friends, would want to have access to the condo to look for a will, DD Form 214, and whatever other documents may be present there. None of us has any known interest in his belongings, other than perhaps books and personal papers.

We have been told that the funeral home has an attorney who is handling everything.

How can we gain legal access to the premises to search for those documents? We hope to ensure our friend has a proper, dignified funeral, that his wishes are followed, and that his estate will not be consumed for legal and funeral expenses (plus the State) if he had other plans.

Thank you.

Hello and welcome.

My name is XXXXX XXXXX my goal is to provide you with excellent service today. I am sorry to hear of your difficult situation. Before I can give you an accurate answer to your question, please provide the following additional information:

No one has a key to the condo that you know of? Do you know if your deceased friend has any relatives or whether a probate case is being filed to distribute his property?

I look forward to assisting you as soon as I have received this information. Thank you.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks, Tina.

- To our knowledge, the only key is at the Hospital.

- One of us (friends) remember him as particularly glum one day several years ago, asked him if he was OK, and he said "my sister just died; she was my last living relative". There may have been a brother-in-law with whom he probably had no contact.

- If a probate case has been filed, we have not been told about it.

I see. Thank you for providing this additional information, Ariel.

Since none of this individual's friends have legal access to his property, the only way to gain legal access typically would be to obtain a court order granting you access unfortunately.

You could call the clerk of the court in the county where your friend resided and inquire with the clerk as to whether a probate case may have been filed there. If not, then you or one of the other friends could file a petition in probate and request that the court appoint an executor of the decreased's estate and permit entry to his condo so it can be determined whether he has a will or other documents can be located to support his status as a veteran.

I wish there were any easier way, but unless you can get the key from the hospital, it would normally take a court order to gain entry to the condo or you could be prosecuted for breaking and entering, even though your intentions are very admirable.

Here is a link which provides probate forms but it would be best to retain a local estate law attorney to assist you with this.

I hope this helps clarify the situation for you. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need so I will be compensated for my time from the deposit you posted with this website. If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Thank you!


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I don't see the link for the estate forms. Are these County-specific, or applicable state-wide?

Hello again, Ariel.

My sincere apologies for not providing that link. Here it is:

The forms are state approved and not specific to any county.
multistatelaw and other Estate Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you -- we'll pursue that avenue.

Will you be available for follow-up questions on this issue -- still under the same initial fee?

You are very welcome, Ariel, and good luck to you.

The site's policy is that a new question thread must be started for new questions (with a new deposit posted), but if you have a brief follow-up or need clarification of my answer, then that may be posted in this thread.

Please remember to provide me with a positive rating so I will be compensated for my time. Thank you very much!
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks, Tina. I hope we can take it from there. If I need to contact you further about this, I'll try do so soon and very briefly, hoping to get it "under the wire" of the original fee / deposit.

And, yes, I'll rate you very positively.



Peace to you too Ariel and thank you in advance for the positive rating!
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

OK - "over and out"


:) OK have a wonderful afternoon!

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