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    marty75426's Avatar
    marty75426 Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
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    #1

    Sep 9, 2013, 05:25 PM
    Wills
    My sister passed away last October, she had been in the hospital for 4 days and her step sons never called to let us know. They finally called on the 4th day and told us she had passed away. My brother and I have been told by the 2 step sons that she had a will, now we are hearing from her closest friends that she didn't. How can we find out for sure? Her step sons won't call us or return our calls when we leave messages. If there wasn't a will do they have any rights to her estate?

    Thanks
    joypulv's Avatar
    joypulv Posts: 21,593, Reputation: 2941
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    #2

    Sep 9, 2013, 05:39 PM
    Finding out if there was a will isn't easy unless it was probated, and you find that out by contacting the Probate Court where she died.
    Small estates aren't always probated. Probate allows creditors and possible heirs to come forward, an inventory of assets to be made, and bills paid and distributions made.
    If she owned a house, you can look up her deed and the new deed (if recorded since October) at the Deed Office.

    If someone dies without a will, that is called dying 'intestate,' and inheritance goes by state law. You can Google your state and 'intestate' to see the law.
    AK lawyer's Avatar
    AK lawyer Posts: 12,592, Reputation: 977
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    #3

    Sep 9, 2013, 06:44 PM
    Expanding upon Joy's answer, step-children do not inherit unless there is a will (everywhere, I believe, in the U.S. and in most other countries as well). So unless they can establish a will leaving them some property, they have no rights to anything from her estate. So, if your sister died owing significant property, you or your brother should apply to be appointed personal representative of an intestate estate.

    You mention step-sons, but don't indicate whether their father (your sister's husband) is still alive. If he is, he might have inheritance rights.
    Fr_Chuck's Avatar
    Fr_Chuck Posts: 81,278, Reputation: 7690
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    #4

    Sep 9, 2013, 07:36 PM
    If they do now show you a will, is there any children that are not step children ? If not, you file a claim in probate assuming there is no will, and proceed as if they do not have any legal rights.
    smearcase's Avatar
    smearcase Posts: 2,392, Reputation: 316
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    #5

    Sep 10, 2013, 08:10 AM
    I have only dealt with one state (MD) which handled a close relative's will and that state has a website on which the docket of any estate current or closed, can be reviewed at all stages, and copies of any of the documents listed on the docket can be ordered for a small fee. In MD, the officials in charge of wills are called Register of Wills (one elected for each county). Also, look for notices to creditors published in newspapers.
    But, without knowing your location, it is difficult to determine what the procedures are in your area.
    AK lawyer's Avatar
    AK lawyer Posts: 12,592, Reputation: 977
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    #6

    Sep 10, 2013, 09:10 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by smearcase View Post
    I have only dealt with one state (MD) which handled a close relative's will and that state has a website on which the docket of any estate current or closed, can be reviewed at all stages, and copies of any of the documents listed on the docket can be ordered for a small fee. In MD, the officials in charge of wills are called Register of Wills (one elected for each county). Also, look for notices to creditors published in newspapers.
    But, without knowing your location, it is difficult to determine what the procedures are in your area.
    Accessing court records online makes it easier in some places, but in any event it is not difficult: As Joypulv wrote yesterday, "you find that out [whether an application has been submitted to the court] by contacting the Probate Court where she died." A simple phone call should do it.

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