My father left me money but he had no assets. The lawyer I consulted said if there are no assets there is no estate and what he left me under the will doesn't mean anything. Further, I know he had more than a million of real estate. He gave all of these assets to his wife before he died. Is there any basis to save my inheritance?
There may be some steps you can take, but the problem with them is that they are likely to be costly and no guarantee, but let's try to give you a few ideas. Do you know what was in your father's will? Are you sure it was only $5,000? If your father's wife (sounds like a second or later wife and not your mother) was to be provided for under your dad's will, a common way to do that is to have the money bequeathed into a trust (a marital trust, QTIP) for her benefit and then on her later death the money could be distributed to you (and any other children of your father's). Was this included in your dad's will? If not, why not? Now, if there was more to go to you under your father's will, or a marital trust for his wife that would eventually benefit you, is it possible that the lifetime transfers of all of your father's real estate only serve to benefit his wife to your detriment? If that is the case is it possible that his wife encouraged your father to make gifts before he died to avoid the will provisions that would benefit you? All speculation of course. If your dad's wife encouraged these gifts in order to prevent you from the inheritance your father intended there may be a cause of action. While all this may be conjecture, if you want to protect your interests you'll need to find out what happened and what was really intended for you. Is it possible your father's wife unduly influenced him to gift her assets and so undermined his intended distributions to you. The bottom line is you need more facts and you'll need a probate litigator to assist you. The practical problem will be the cost of addressing this. Further, even if you pursue it there is no assurance that you'll have a basis to undue the prior gifts
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