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my mother married my step father 19 years ago. He passed away

my mother married my step...
my mother married my step father 19 years ago. He passed away last week. They had a prenuptial agreement which we are trying to locate in the Wyoming courts. 11 months before he passed, unbeknownst to everyone he changed his will, leaving my mother a home in Cave Creek, AZ but dividing our mountain land and ranch in Wyoming between my mother, 3 step sisters, and my half sister that they had together. The executives of the will are my mother and 2 of my step sisters. My mother and I, both being RN's, cared for him during the last two years of his life. They were married in Las Vegas and have property in Wyoming, Arizona, and New Mexico. The two sisters hired a probate lawyer this morning without consulting my mother. They are railroading my mother who is still in mourning. The daughters had no relationship with their father, matter of fact one hadn't spoken to him in years and the other made contact with him once in 3 years, the day of his death. Is there ANYTHING my mother can do? Are there different laws considering the different states the property is in and the state they were married? ANY suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I feel helpless and hopeless.
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Answered in 23 minutes by:
10/8/2013
J. Warren
J. Warren, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 2,249
Experience: Experience in estate planning including wills, trusts and succession planning.
Verified
Hello! My name is XXXXX XXXXX I look forward to helping and providing information to you today.

My condolences in the loss of your step father and I am sorry you are dealing with this situation.

My first suggestion is that your mother retain local legal counsel to assist her with the estate administration/probate. Several things could come into play regarding this situation. First, the will and the execution of the will should be carefully examined to make sure he was of sound mind to make the will and that it was a product of his own free will. Meaning he was not under some undue influence to change his estate.

How the real property is titled makes a difference as well. If the property was held jointly with rights of survivorship title would pass outside the provisions of the will to the joint owner.

An ancillary probate will need to be opened in each State in which real property was held. If property was acquired after their marriage in New Mexico and Arizona the community property laws will affect how the property is transferred on his death and possibly would transfer to her outside the will if the property became community property during their marriage.

It will be important to locate the prenuptial agreement to determine what property was considered separate. However, it is unlikely to have been a recorded document and you will not find a copy in the Wyoming courts. Also, prenuptial agreements do not have much bearing on testamentary distribution of property but only marriage dissolution matters.

The most important information I can provide you is to retain a local attorney to assist your mother as a personal representative of the estate, review the deeds to the real property which can be found in the county recorder's office where the property is located, and review the will to make sure it was properly executed and try to discover facts that indicate the will was not the free product of your father's mind but that of someone's influence.

I am very sorry you and your mother have to deal with this on top of grieving; that is an unfair and unnecessary situation to be placed in by the beneficiaries of the estate.

All my best & encouragement.

Please note that you are asked to rate my courtesy and professionalism, and not whether the answer supports your legal position. If for any reason you feel that a 2 or 1 rating is appropriate, please first give me the opportunity to address your concerns.

All states have intricacies in their laws and any information given is simply information only and specifically is not intended to be, nor does it constitute, legal advice. This communication does not establish an attorney-client relationship with you.
J. Warren
J. Warren, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 2,249
Experience: Experience in estate planning including wills, trusts and succession planning.
Verified
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Thank you for all of the information and kind words. They seem to be very few and far between. Where would I access information on the properties in the different states and the property laws for those states? Also, does the location of their wedding in Vegas affect the probate? Does it make a difference that they have a daughter together? Also, should my mother continue being a representative with the 2 daughters?

You can access the property information by going to the County website in the property is located. Often times you can access deed information from the County website in which the property is located. For example, the County in Wyoming where the property is located will have information on how to contact the recorders office.

It does not matter where they were married, only where they resided at the time of his death and what State and County any property is located in.

It could make a difference if they had a daughter together if the Will is proved to be invalid.

As hard as it may be on her to be representative she should continue to do so but only if she is represented by legal counsel. This will keep the steam rolling that appears to be happening down to a minimum and keep her stress level down.

All my best & encouragement.

Please note that you are asked to rate my courtesy and professionalism, and not whether the answer supports your legal position. If for any reason you feel that a 2 or 1 rating is appropriate, please first give me the opportunity to address your concerns.

All states have intricacies in their laws and any information given is simply information only and specifically is not intended to be, nor does it constitute, legal advice. This communication does not establish an attorney-client relationship with you.
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J. Warren
J. Warren
J. Warren, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
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Experience: Experience in estate planning including wills, trusts and succession planning.

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