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Barrister
Barrister, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 37868
Experience:  16 yrs estate law, real estate. Wills/Trusts/Probate
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My mother and stepfather were married years. My mother died

Customer Question

My mother and stepfather were married for 33 years. My mother died first. He has now died and I was in the process of handling their affairs as they had instructed me to do. However now after 33 years my stepfather's son comes forth and claims everything including calling the police on me while I came to clean the house as well as preventing me from removing my mother's personal items. When I went to the Clerk of Court I was told that according to North Carolina law his son would be considered the next of kin heir. He had nothing to do with his father and only now came forth at the funeral. In all their 33 years together I never saw him at all. Is there any way I can contest what he is doing. Truly the law was not intended to allow others to capitalize and/or profit from the ill-treatment of another. I do not know if they had a will, however if they did it would be in the house which I am now not permitted to enter.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question.

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Did anyone file a probate case to settle mother's estate when she passed?

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How long ago did mother pass?

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Nothing was filed when my mother died. Since it was only myself and my children in their lives none of us had a clue that his son would come forth with a claim after 33 years of being absent in his life. Everyone's understanding was that my children and I would be the sole beneficiaries and this is what was told/said to us in their late years. I have several non-relatives who also know all of the above to be a fact, (the best friend of my mother and of my step-father). My stepfather was 100 years old when he died. My mother died 2 years ago at age 83. Before we were asked to leave the house, while going through her things I do know that money which my mother had in her bank account was transferred to my stepfather's account.
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

Ok, this is the part of the job that I don't like...when I have to give bad news to a customer...

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If mother passed first and didn't have a will, then under NC intestacy laws her husband would inherit the first $60,000 of her estate and 1/2 of anything over that. Any children of mother would split anything over $60K with husband. So if she had less than $60,000 in assets in her estate when she passed, stepfather would inherit everything..

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Then when stepfather passed, unless he had a will stating otherwise, his children would inherit his entire estate as a matter of law. It unfortunately doesn't matter that the child was absent or ungrateful or hadn't done anything to deserve to inherit....they do so according to the law.

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So the critical part here would be if there was a will discovered in the house. If you filed a probate petition to settle mother's estate and be named Administrator, you can get an order from the judge to allow you to enter the house and search it for any will that may be there in any important papers. If one is discovered for mother or stepfather, or both, then those would control what happens to their estate.

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I hate to heap bad news on top of bad news, but if the son has been in possession of the house for a while, he has likely searched it and if he found any wills, he likely would have destroyed them so as to ensure that he inherited everything as a matter of law.... And if there is no will in existence currently, there is no way to prove that there ever was one, despite what mother and stepfather might have claimed..

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I am very sorry that I don’t have better news, but please understand that I do have an ethical and professional obligation to provide customers with legally correct answers based on my knowledge and experience, even when I know the answer doesn’t make the customer happy...

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thanks

Barrister