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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 118200
Experience:  Experienced in Trust and Succession Law, including Louisiana Laws
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S the situation I'm currently in and need some advice with,

Customer Question

Hi here’s the situation I’m currently in and need some advice with, and we won’t know if this has to do with a trust or would it be a beneficiary issue until documents can be identified. With my brother recently passing away (Aug 29th 2015) in Virginia (ex-military), and his daughter (my niece) has petitioned and been approved to administer his estate, which is non-supervised, and no bond at this time?, he also was divorced from his wife for over 20 yrs. which also makes this situation complicated. He didn’t have many financials assets left other than his military pension which has been administered in his divorce over some twenty odd years ago, but his banking information and a vehicle that was shared with his 70 plus year old companion was demanded up front by his daughter prior to her filing documents to be his estate administrator. Along with his banking information that was turned over; a safety deposit box was discovered at his bank that contained documentation that included my deceased mother’s (since 1996) name as some type of beneficiary of a trust or some sort of insurance policy. (Not clear my niece is withholding this information concerning this document) Later I was asked by my ex-sister-in law to provide my mother’s death certificate so that they could as she stated at that time to complete and close her ex-husband’s estate no other reason was given as of yet, as I inquired further I was handed off to her daughter my niece and administrator of my brother’s estate who stated after I explained I want to help but until I can fully understand what documents my deceased mother’s name is ***** ***** couldn’t release her death certificate at this time.
I again asked why they needed my parent’s death certificate and she finally stated it looks like it could be a trust or some insurance policy and then again proceeded on to ask me to send it to her. I mentioned before we can move forward I would need to see a copy of the documentation and then we can move from there, however she refused. I explained that I am the point of contact concerning any issues with my parent (mother) just as she is currently involved with her dad’s estate and that we can work together, but in order for me to turn over such a document I would need to know what this document is in regards ***** ***** mother and if it’s something a little complicated then an attorney may have to get involved so things are currently at a standstill. My questions are as follow do I have any recourse to force her to provide specifics or copies of this/these documents with my mom’s signature or name on them? As my parent’s next of kin is there any way I can ensure protection through the court in Virginia although her estate has been closed in Va. since 1996? And would a petition for a supervised estate administration help? Can I petition the court if I want to administrate my mother’s issue on her behalf if it doesn’t directly affect my brother’s estate? Does the estate administrator in this situation have absolute authority with this issue of my parent having her name on such document(s)? Although my brother was the administrator for our mother estate in Virginia could I petition in any way to have copies of these documents since I’m my parent’s next of kin? Not trying to make any trouble here, but I haven’t seen these people in over 30 years. They had squeezed everything out of my brother when he divorced his wife those twenty years ago, hence the bitterness I can regretfully see even after he fully provided for them willing fully with his time and any resources they asked for, now in his death they still want more. I can’t remember anyone of them visiting my mother(their grandmother or mother-in-law) when she needed them the most nor did they even attend her funeral, although she would not want them involved in any of her affairs at all I’m just trying to ensure that this issue can be remedied with no one trying to claim something that doesn’t belong to them and my obligation to my brother and our mother is what has me compelled to address this issue. Your help is gratefully appreciated and thank you, ***** ***** feel free to contact me***@******.***
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.

Under VA law, absent a will to the contrary, without a surviving current spouse, your brother's children are the sole heirs to his estate with rights to that estate. Legally, even as executor of your parent's estate, you do not have a right to see what is in your brother's estate. If there was perhaps an insurance policy with your brother as beneficiary and your parents as insured, that would still go to your niece. However, typically, without a will, she gets his whole estate (presuming she is only child, which is easier for now, but you understand if he had multiple children the same applies and they share their father's estate equally).

If she has something that she needs from your mother, as you are executor, she needs to make the request to you in writing. If you choose not to provide it you can force her to go to court to get a court order (since we have no idea why she needs it I could not even guess).

As estate administrator, you do not have the right to know anything unless there was something that was supposed to go to your mother's estate. It is likely your brother may have had an insurance policy or something naming your mother as beneficiary, but if the beneficiary dies before your brother, then that beneficiary grant is void and whatever it was granted to your mom goes into your brother's estate, it would not go to your mother's estate because she died before your brother.

If you refuse to provide the death certificate, she can actually petition the court for an order to get a copy from the department of vital records without your consent and the court will grant it.