This was sort of touched on in another post...but I want to expand the issue a bit....so rather than hijack someone else’s post....
Lets say your Mom dies. Only person living with her was a long time boyfriend. Boyfriend refuses to even discuss the possessions of Mom or any policies that might be around. Refuses to discuss a will..or even if there was one. Boyfriend has figured out he can keep it all if he just keeps the family away and denies access.
So, lets say nothing has been done.
How do you discover if there was a policy? Insurance company will not contact the beneficiary... so if you cannot get access to the files or documents from boyfriend... then what?
Same goes for a will. No public recording needs to be done of a will...so it might just be a folder in a cabinet somewhere...again..boyfriend will not allow access.
You can go to the local deeds registry and find out about the title to the house. Mom might have put his name on the title and on her bank account.....But, everything else?
What do you do about getting access to those documents?
How do you prevent their destruction if boyfriend wants to “get even” if you hire an attorney. You would never know if it had ever existed.
How to solve this problem?
California’s Unclaimed Property Law requires banks, insurance companies, corporations, and certain other entities to report and submit their customers’ property to the State Controller’s Office when there has been no activity for a period of time (generally three years). Common types of unclaimed property are bank accounts, stocks, bonds, uncashed checks, insurance benefits, wages, and safe deposit box contents. Property does not include Real Estate. Controller Betty Yee safeguards this lost or forgotten property as long as it takes to reunite it with the rightful owners; there is no deadline for claiming it once it is transferred over to the State Controller’s Office. It is easy to find out if the Controller is protecting property in your name.
Have never used it, but I might need to find out on behalf of someone.
Reading their website may help give you some ideas.
Also, every state has an unclaimed property list, one can search online using the person's name.
The other option is to talk with probate attorney about removing boyfriend from her home and having someone there to witness every single thing he removes from the home. At that point, if house transferred to his name, you can bet he'll produce the paperwork.
I agree, all wills and POAs need to be registered like deeds. Then all you need to do is go to the County seat and see if there is one and who is mentioned as POA/Executor.
I think you need to consult an attorney even if legal aid. It may just sending a letter requesting that all important documents be handed over to you. I would have a police escort when I went. If there is no will, you can apply to be an Administrator. Then u get a Short Cert. saying you now have the ability to get to Moms finances and papers. You get this at the probate office. If they shared an account, he may now own it. Meaning what is in it is his. Did she work a number of years at the same place and retire from there? She may have a life insurance policy thru her former employer. You need to call that employers Human Resource Dept.
So my late MIL had a trust created when the doctor gave her the bad news & she made my husband her successor trustee and gave him the all the trust paperwork. While she was on hospice, her boyfriend-or partner as I call him-had been mentioning insurance policies and saying that all the money her kids got when she died was going to come from the insurance. The day after she died, we picked up the box that had all her personal paperwork in it-social security card, some old bank statements, tax returns, child support paperwork, workman’s comp claim paperwork, that sort of stuff. There was also a form for a small life insurance policy she had through her former employer, that they gave her when she retired—if she wanted to keep the policy then she needed to fill out the form & send it to the insurance company and pay the premiums on it herself. She never did that, we called the insurance company & verified it. Anyway......he brought up the alleged life insurance policies the day after she died & he said that at one time they had had multiple policies on each other but had cashed them in for $6,000 and used it to help pay off the house. He also said there was another policy she had that he had paying $6 a month for. He brought this policy up again 2 weeks later in front of my husband and his siblings, he said it was a $20,000 policy and that he knew it was there because he had been paying $6 a month for it. My husband told him there was no policy and MIL partner faked his surprise! We knew she hadn’t kept the $20k policy through her former employer and I had been in the process of auditing their joint accounts & her personal accounts and there was no $6 monthly payment coming out of any of those accounts so unless he was paying it out of his personal account (which I highly highly doubt because he paid all the bills out of her personal account which contained her money only) I think he was full of poop & trying to distract us so we wouldn’t discover that he nearly emptied her personal checking account an hour after she died!
Anyway he was never forthcoming about anything other than that a $20k life insurance policy existed and that my husband should find it and get the money. I did some googling and there are a few companies that you can pay to contact all of the companies that sell life insurance & track down policies on your loved one. The fee for the one we used was $30 I think. They haven’t contacted us & told us they found any policies and it’s been 11 months. But point is, as far as life insurance, if you don’t know whether there was insurance or not, you can find out by either contacting the insurance companies yourself or by paying a service to do it for you.
As far as wills, unless probate is started or the Will was filed with the courts, there’s not much you can do. You could try legal action to get a court order or something but I don’t know if you would be successful and the person could lie to court and say there is no will.
for bank accounts, the banks won’t help you unless your name was on the accounts or you have a legal document showing you are executor of the will/trust-probate administrator. However if there were payable on death beneficiaries then most banks won’t honor anything you have. If you know where the person banked and you know their bank log in (or email address and answers to their security questions) you could do what we did and log in to the accounts yourself & see what is there.
You maybe able to go to the Probate office and tell them there is no will. You can get a Short Cert as an Administrator. This gives u the ability to handle Moms finances. There is an affidavit too, if the estate is under 20k. This one also gives u the right to handle Moms stuff and you don't need to report findings back to probate. You do with Executor and Administrator. Now, this is NJ, so maybe different in ur state.
I believe your best option is to see an attorney. One who specializes in probate. They can find assets. You may have to pay for the attorney, or they may be paid out of the estate if they represent the heirs (you and your siblings) and if there is enough money in the estate to pay.
Personally, I wouldn't tell/threaten the boyfriend that you are getting an attorney, I would let the attorney contact him.
In my experience... If the boyfriend has drained accounts etc, you may never see that money again. (that happened to a loved one of mine)
Sadly, we want people to behave and do the right thing, but they don't always.
So sorry you are dealing with this on top of losing your mom!
I hope this helps.