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Estate litigation: When a hidden will leads to a lost inheritance

| Oct 25, 2019 | Estate Litigation |

Too many people in New Jersey and elsewhere do not have wills or proper estate plans in place. Those who do may not have their estate planning documents stored in locations that are accessible to all concerned parties. An individual in another state recently shared a story of how a hidden will resulted in the loss of his or her inheritance. Now this person and his or her siblings are wondering what can be done about it. Through estate litigation, it may be possible for these family members to take back what they believe is rightfully theirs.

According to the story, this person’s father supposedly wrote a will before he died. It was common knowledge that he wanted to provide for his wife — the stepmother to his children — so she remained in the home they had shared until her death. Upon her death, her own daughter was given the house. Her husband’s children ended up with nothing, and they believe that is because their stepmother hid his will.

When a person passes away and a will exists, the will has to be supplied when opening a probate case. If a will or any other estate planning documents are purposely withheld, the individual responsible may be held accountable for any losses experienced by any other beneficiaries. In this particular case, as the stepmother has already passed away and the father’s estate has been closed for some time, the stepchildren may file claims against her estate in an effort to obtain the inheritance they were allegedly denied.

This case is a difficult one. There is a statute of limitations for filing claims against an estate, and it is unclear if the offended party has the information needed to prove he or she and his or her siblings should have been awarded anything from their father’s estate. This family can turn to legal counsel for assistance sorting the matter out. Those who are dealing with similar estate issues in New Jersey may also seek out an experienced estate litigation attorney for help resolving the issue in a timely manner.