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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 37399
Experience:  Attorney with 16 years experience
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My husband and I were married 10 years. We have

Customer Question

My husband and I were married for almost 10 years. We have been divorced for longer. He took his life almost 2 years ago. Two time he told me that he made me beneficiary on his life insurance policies in the understanding that it was for our children's college fund if needed to which I obviously agreed as I rarely got child support on time and my best interest was in my children and I mainly supported us anyway. I get Survivor benefits and a good amount being that he was 10 years older than me and worked longer than me. My oldest just recently graduated. His sister who insisted as being benefactor or whatever you want to call of it of his estate had told me several times his estate was insolvent. 2 years later, today actually give me my son a check for a LOT and signed it from his dead father. My son knows that it wasn't from it.. and while it might have seemed a nice gesture... it makes me wonder if they did something with his life insurance policies that he told me he made my primary bene of. Is there something I should have done? Him being single with no wife at the time shouldn't the whole estate have gone to his children to begin with? Granted this is a shady family to begin with. My ex had no will... had actually committed a felony crime, was released on bail and then committed suicide. His sister let the family pick and choose what they took even after I heard him one on one in front of my oldest state that "this, this and this" are yours if anything ever happens. If no will is present and my ex was single at the time what is the order of where everything goes. Did my ex Sister In Law have the right to dominate his estate and say where everything went? If that is the case who becomes the person who doles out the estate? Is it too late for me to say something? Or do something? They are now offering my son to go to college and pay for it. And I know they can't afford it. I think my ex Sister in law took the reigns before I knew what was going on... because I know for sure they can't pay for my son's college education.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Actually we WERE married for 10 years. I know one of the companies he worked at. I have always felt she was pulling the wool over my eyes but I thought you know what. Material things don't matter. But they paid off a $4k loan and gave the vehicle to my son and promised my 14 year old daughter a car. And then this. Giving him a big check in his father's name? Good for my son but I am wondering what they are keeping from my children. They let all of the family pick through his things even the trains that he has bought religiously for 18 years for my son and he has none of them.. his brother has them. My children's experience of picking through their father's things was terrible because all of the cousins were taking everything. I told my kids things don't matter.. Memories matter. His sister has always been the so to speak Mob Boss of the family and I just feel she took control (within hours of his death she was dictating things) and is doling out things as SHE feels appropriate. I am pretty sure that I read a parent with no spouse the children are first dibs at the estate. I had no interest in it until now when they presented my son a check almost 2 years after "fakely" signed by their father.
Expert:  Barrister replied 2 years ago.
Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.
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"" Is there something I should have done? Him being single with no wife at the time shouldn't the whole estate have gone to his children to begin with?""
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If he had life insurance, then it would have been paid directly to the named beneficiary of that policy outside probate. The executor would have no control over those proceeds unless the beneficiary was his estate.
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But yes, if he was unmarried at the time of his death and had children, then if he passed without a will, his children would all split his estate equally.
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If the sister filed a probate case to settle the estate, she would have had a legal duty to divide up the estate under the PA intestacy laws and distribute any assets to his children equally.
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""Did my ex Sister In Law have the right to dominate his estate and say where everything went?"'
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Only if she filed a probate case to settle his estate and was named Administrator by a probate court judge. And even then, everything would have to be divided equally between all the children.
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""Is it too late for me to say something? Or do something?""
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Since you were his ex, you wouldn't have any legal standing personally to dispute any distribution of his estate. Only his children would have legal standing to dispute the way his estate was divided. But if there are minor children and you are their mother, you would have standing to file a civil suit on their behalf if the estate wasn't distributed properly.
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But if there was some type of fraud on the part of the sister, there is only a 2 year statute of limitations on an interested party challenging it. If it is fast approaching that 2 year mark, then you would have to act quickly to get an attorney involved to file suit against sister if she didn't properly distribute the estate if she was Administrator.
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thanks
Barrister
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
So would there any way I would know that she filed a probate case? I was so consumed on their mental health as when this happened they were 16 and 12. I thought everything was to be divided by the children but IMO it was only material stuff and because of what they were suffering that didn't matter to me. So I did not pursue it. Now I am questioning that decision. I know I wouldn't have any legal standing and before his actions and death I was remarried. That I already knew. It definitely wasn't distributed properly. They put all of his stuff in bins and let the family choose what they wanted in which my children even said why do they get to keep dad's things. And that was at that younger age. I told them things didn't matter it was memories. I am closing in on the 2 year statute in September. So I ask is it worth the money not knowing what he actually had? Or would it be a financially consuming battle that just brought up bad memories? But in light of that check. No one in the family ever gave more than $25 for any event. So for that huge sum and them now offering to pay for college? Is there anyone to find out what happened to his Life Insurance policies that he stated he named me as beneficiary on? I know one was through work. The other I don't know. Should I just let it go or is it worth going after for the benefit of our children?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
That is exactly how this family works which is why I have not pursued it because I could really care less about material things... the only thing I care about is my kids.
Expert:  Barrister replied 2 years ago.
""So would there any way I would know that she filed a probate case?""
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You could contact the local probate court in the county where he lived to see if a case was ever filed in his name. If he had assets in his name solely, then someone would have had to file one so as to be able to take possession of those assets to transfer them to any heirs.
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""So I ask is it worth the money not knowing what he actually had? Or would it be a financially consuming battle that just brought up bad memories?""
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Honestly, an attorney would likely charge $5-6,000 to even start any case and if he didn't have much along the line of assets, the it may be an expensive, stressful battle without any reward at the end.
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As for the insurance, there is no way that she could claim that if you were the beneficiary. So you could contact his employer's HR dept and simply ask them if he had an insurance policy through work where you were named as beneficiary. If so, then you could find out who the insurer is and contact them to file a claim.
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So that is something that you could do without stirring anything up regarding the estate at least..
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thanks
Barrister