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CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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I just discovered that my mother-in-law died in 2012. My

Customer Question

I just discovered that my mother-in-law died in 2012. My husband died in 2011 and my father-in-law died 3 months before his wife in 2012. After my husband died his father changed his will and even though the lawyer tried to nudge him in the right direction he left everything to his wife who by that point had Alzheimer's Disease so bad she would call her husband "That woman that is staying with us." My assumption is that her will would have to read as it did when last she was of "sound, mind and body" and I am also pretty sure it would have read: "if my husband predeceases me then everything will go to my only living child" that being my husband." Would that not mean that I,as the inheritor of all my husband had would be mine?" My husband's first cousin was made executor of my father-in-law's will and when my mother-in-law died he NEVER EVEN POSTED AN OBITUARY in our local papers so all the people from all the many clubs (they were actually Shriner's) they belonged to would know she was gone. I firmly believe he did this so I would never see it. I only did see it because I was messing around on the computer with friends over a glass or 2 of wine. I am also owed money for all the money's I put into the 2 family house I lived in with my husband and I on the 2nd floor and my in-laws on the 1st. Just a little non legal background: prior to this my husband and his parent's lived on the 2nd floor and my husbands grandparent's lived on the first so they had lived in this house for close to if nto a century. The first cousin who was made executor of my father-in-law's will never did anything but visit yet I lived there for 23 years, splitting repair costs, paying the cable bill, the landscaping bill including snow plowing and rent. I am sure there is more. Do I have any recourse as the inheritor of my husband's estate? Since I have medical proof of my mother-in-law's Alzheimer's is it not true that her will COULD NOT BE CHANGED? Could this first cousin become the executor of her will and if so how? If the will had been changed after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's would that not be a chargable offense
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Dear Customer,

Thank you for using our forum. My name is ***** ***** I hope to assist you today.

I am very sorry to learn of this situation and the rather complicated issues stemming from it.

It is possible that you would be entitled to inherit from all three estates. However, the fact that your mother in law had alzheimer's alone does not mean that she cannot create a new will (although it does create at least a significant argument that any will or testamentary document that was drafted is unenforceable - the issue is whether or not she was lucid at the time the document was drafted, and whether there was undue influence at the time - I just want to address the fact that this is not a "sure thing" and litigation over these estates in probate is going to have an inherent risk (like all litigation)).

I would recommend consulting with a local probate attorney, provide them all of the documentation that you have in your possession and allow them to review it and provide you with a formal opinion, and go over the cost/benefit analysis with you (do not spend more litigating the matter with your husband's cousin than you would potentially recover from the estate).

If there was in fact a case of financial abuse of an elder, while this is a criminal matter as well as a civil one - I would speculate (although, please do keep in mind this is a "general information forum" and I have no way of reviewing all of the facts of your case - that is part of what the local attorney's consultation would cover) that this would be dealt with solely in a civil suit - where the estate of your mother in law would sue the cousin for money damages for her conduct.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
If you die without a will and have no spouse, no children, your Mom is still alive along with your one living sister would your estate go easily to my sister or would it cause a complicated mess
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

If you die without a testamentary document (will or trust), your estate goes through the intestate succession statute.

In New Jersey it would pass like this:

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Regarding my first question where I had just learned that my mother-in-law has been dead for 4 years I discovered last night that the cousin who was the executor for my father-in-law's will died last year. Doesn't this mean I am the last person entitled to whatever is left of these estates as everyone else is dead?
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Not necessarily.

The executor is not necessarily the beneficiary of the estate.

Unfortunately you are going to have to go back and try to unwind what happened in these estates and see what exactly occurred.

(I really would recommend at a minimum consulting with a local attorney so that you can go over the specific facts of what you are dealing with (in more detail than what we can do here on a "chat" session) and come up with a strategy to deal with all of this in a cost effective and efficient manner - you don't want to try going about this piecemeal or in a jerk-kneed response, and spending some time going over the matter as a whole identifying issues such as statutes of limitations, where to best invest your resources and cost/benefit analysis will be a great value to you upfront).