My father was ill and his wife (second wife) left him while his sisters were visiting him about a month ago. His wife packed her bags and left, even had a change of address to her daughters home in North Carolina. Her daughter was listed as caretaker and then it changed to me when they abandoned him. So I left my job in NY and came down to assume caretaker for my father. My father changed the locks when his wife left and started the divorce process but never finished it because he passed. While he was alive he had his sister write up his last wishes on the 14th and email it to a lawyer but the lawyer who I’m unsure if he was credible never did anything with it and my father died on the 29th. Now his wife and her daughter are trying to remove me from my fathers house and claim all of his belongings including his vehicle and jewelry. I need to know what my rights are. They have two properties in which they are both on the title and deed but the deed says nothing about rights of survivorship or tenancy at entirety it says that the property is given to the grantee and the grantees heirs. I want to know if my brothers and I can fight for our rights and even try to push for elderly neglect on her end. He was a West Palm Beach Florida resident.

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Wow! Have no idea about the outcome of this mess but wanted to offer you a giant hug. Best of luck to you and your family.
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This is a complicated question and you are definitely going to need legal advice. First try to find out if there was a previous will, who has it and what it says. The old will is almost certainly still valid, as sister’s email is not a valid will, although it may be useful in court negotiations about 'abandonment'. What you say about the ‘titles’ and the ‘deed’ doesn’t make much sense to me, so either it’s different law or else you too don’t really understand – in both cases you need copies of all documents and a local lawyer. You don’t say exactly how the others are trying to remove you from the house. Just sit tight – it is very difficult to get anyone evicted. If you think they have keys, change the locks. You might want to put a wheel lock on the vehicle. Do nothing except getting your own legal advice, wait for them to put their $ on the line to start proceedings.

To counter their proceedings (if they start them), it will probably be important to prove that he was abandoned. Write down all your memories of what has happened, with dates. Talk to anyone how might have witnessed any of it, and make notes of what they say. You may need them to witness formally, so try to stay on their right side, as many people cringe at the idea of standing up in court. If you get a convincing case to put forward to any lawyer the opposition hires, with luck this may all fade away as 'too hard'. It's not your average 'no win, no pay' case.

I should add that I am a lawyer and accountant in Australia, and USA law is different in different states. The medical advice on this site is excellent, but the legal advice (except regarding Medicaid etc) is often just a guess. While I think the above is good practical advice, I often get negative feedback from USA locals who think I shouldn't comment, though never so far from people with legal qualifications.
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worriedinCali Dec 2019
Margaret is actually incorrect when she says people without legal qualifications give her negative feedback. Just putting that out there since she’s attempting to make people look bad. And for the record, she gives BAD legal advice to people here regularly because she’s in a different country with an entirely different legal system and she doesn’t understand how our laws are applied.
Neriah, first my hearthfelt sympathy to you and your family. You will need to find an "Elder Law Attorney" to help sort out this case.

You mentioned that your Dad's wife left when his sisters were visiting. Curious what caused the wife to leave? Someone just doesn't walk out on a whim, something had to happen.

Hopefully there is a signed, notarized will. If not, then it is up to the Probate Judge to decide who gets what. Usually the chain would be a "spouse" first.... children.... parents.... siblings.... other heirs. It is up to State law as how the estate is split up, and who comes first.

This is complex, so hire an attorney as soon as possible. To find an "Elder Law Attorney" in your area, scroll to the bottom of the page to ELDER LAW ATTORNEYS and there should be a section that will give you lawyer names.
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