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He left everything to an out of state cousin that none of us even knew of. All of our parents home is going to be packed up and sent to this man on the west coast. We were inform that if we wanted any of our parents belonging we could buy them from him. How can this be fair? My parents lived in that home for over 50 years, my bothers and i grew up there. All my Great Grandparents and Grandparents heirlooms, even my wedding dress that was stored in the attic now belong to a stranger. This is just not right.....

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consult an Elder Law Attorney to see what steps you can take. If you have a copy of will send it to the probate court if it has not been subject to probate. This a good example of why wills are probated. Errors of omission can be fixed which is IMCO family members names must be specified even if they are left a dollar. I'm no lawyer.
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I'm pretty sure you can make the case that your dad never wore your wedding dress!
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The fact that you were told you could BUY anything back raises my questioning mind to high! And as for things that are YOURS that were stored in your family home... they are yours. Noone can "will" your personal belongings away, If you had been living there that assumes that your clothes, personal effects etc would no longer be yours...even your toothbrush if you get my drift. This is fishy, and exploitative. Get a lawyer..
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Have you been in direct contact with this cousin or only communicate through the lawyer? Even if it turns out that he legally owns the bulk of the estate, I can't imagine that he would be interested in acquiring truckloads of unfamiliar family memorabilia and furniture, and the reality is that estate auctions usually bring in very little.
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Right. Generally attorneys don't rule over a Will. The Wil is normally filed for probate with the Estates office of the court and reviewed by the clerks there. There are procedures and safegards. I would check to make sure all was done properly.
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Irish5157, first I forget to mention in my previous post that I am sorry for the passing of your parents. Could you give us a timeline? When did your mother pass? When did your father go into a nursing home and why was he placed there? How long did he live in the nursing home and what was his cause of death?

You mentioned your father signed the current Will just months prior to entering the nursing home. I am really surprised he never mentioned this Cousin, as usually one with Alzheimer's/Dementia will obsess over an item for months on end. You'd think he would have talked none stop about a new Will.

I am curious how did the Attorney know who you were as he/she called you about the Will? How did the Cousin and/or Attorney know who everyone was in the family and their telephone numbers?

Something doesn't sound right here.
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Another thought - was your father ever involved with one of the aggressive so-called religious groups? I'm wondering if someone convinced him to make the changes.

And I still believe you should be entitled to a copy of the new Will. Check with your county Probate Department; it should have been filed.
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Irish, was the contact with the attorney by phone, or do you have anything in writing? Did you verify this is a legitimate attorney with a license to practice?

I still think it seems strange.
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I've never heard of a state that doesn't require a Will to be probated through the court. Perhaps a second legal opinion is in order.
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The new will was done prior to him going into the nursing home, just after my mother passed away. We were unaware of this new will until his attorney informed us after my fathers passing. It is a valid signed and witnessed will executed months prior. The lawyer contacted the cousin and together they made the arrangements to get all the possessions packed up cleared out. If is just the fact that our family belongs now legally belong to a stranger. As far as any of the banking goes, that was not changed. It is just the fact that all our family belongs now legally belong to someone else. Our attoney agress that everything is legit and there is nothing we can do.
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Another thought - if it appears as though the will or codicil wasn't executed before your father had dementia, I agree with FF to get an attorney, and ask about the possibility of a TRO - Temporary Restraining Order, preventing the alleged relative from taking any of your father's possessions, making any disposition of the house, and protecting all of your father's financial assets.

In fact, that raises another question....were the names of any of your family on any of your father's accounts? I have a feeling that if they were, that was changed also.

I'm wondering if this was an orchestrated scam.
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Who informed you of this change? Have you actually seen his most recent Will or a Codicil (amendment) to it?

A cousin that you don't even know existed - that sounds very suspicious to me.

Some concerns I would have:

1. If the Will or Codicil was executed after father had been diagnosed with dementia, depending on his cognitive state, it might not be valid. You may have a good challenge to the Will based on his incapacity to understand legal issues and have had the Will changed.

2. See what you can do to run down any witnesses to the Will, as well as determine if an attorney was involved (I suspect not). It wouldn't hurt to ask the admins and staff if they knew of any episodes in which someone (strangers?) came and met with your father.

3. Who is going to do the packing and sent to the so-called cousin? Was this arranged previously, prior to your father's death? I assume you're also asking for identification from this cousin to prove who he really is?

4. It is possible that someone at the facility in which he was staying influenced him, and that this alleged cousin is not really a cousin? Have you done any research to determine his lineage, which side of the family, etc.? Does anyone at all know of him?

5. It's also possible that someone at the facility befriended your father and to show his appreciation he made the changes, and that this cousin really isn't a cousin at all.

I would definitely do some background investigation.

On the other hand, if it turns out that this relative is in fact legitimate, and the changes made were also legitimate, you might want to contact the relative and negotiate arrangements to get the possessions you want, such as your wedding dress.

But this situation just doesn't sound legitimate to me.
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Your profile mentioned that your Father had Alzheimer's/Dementia. I would be curious as to when the Will was changed and if your Father was of clear mind when he changed said Will. Who prepared the Will, was it an attorney or off of the Internet? Was it signed by your Father and witnessed in front of a Notary with the required other witnesses?

If no to most of the answers, consult an Elder Law Attorney to see what steps you can take.
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