My Parents Said they Willed Everything to Me, Now I’m Being Told Their Assets Went to Pay for Their Nursing Home

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“When my parents drew up their mutual will, my oldest brother lived in a different state and I was planning to move also.  Because of this, they appointed my youngest brother as executor;  I believe he was also appointed their power-of-attorney. First, he urged my parents to turn over all their real estate so my oldest brother so I would not benefit from it.  Shortly before I left the area, my mother informed me they had revised the will so I would receive a large sum of money, and my kids would receive savings bonds. After my parents passed away, I heard nothing about the will or anything connected to it. Recently, I received a short note from executor, informing me the will had never been read “because there was nothing left.” He expects me to believe that all of their assets went to pay for approximately a year of nursing home care for my mother. Well, my parents had investments from approx. 25 years from their business, as well as all of the personal items they acquired during 58 years of marriage. Myself, my 2 adult-aged kids, my eldest brother and his adult-aged daughter, received nothing. The heart of the problem is my parents lived in NY, while I’m in Iowa & eldest brother is in California.  I couldn’t find ANY New York attorney who would even reply to my inquiries, and lawyers here say they don’t have the authority to deal with out-of-state cases.  I have a low income, but Legal Aid said they can’t help either. No one in New York will give me any information about what actually happened to my parents’ assets & personal property.  All the Surrogate’s court clerk told me was nothing was ever filed with their court.”

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

Starting from the end, the fact that nothing was filed with the court is consistent with the story that there were no assets left in your parents’ estate.  If there are no assets, there is no reason to open a probate case, since probate is all about transferring assets.

Which takes us back a step to the question of whether your parents’ estate had any assets.  I don’t know how much they had, but you might be surprised at how much a year in a nursing home can cost.  However, let’s assume that they had more than that. What happened to those assets?  Did your little brother convince them to transfer it all into his name before they died?  They may have had good reason to do that–notwithstanding what they told you about their will, the assets were theirs and they could choose to give them away if they wanted to.

But what if they didn’t make a free choice about it?  It’s all too common for older people to be taken advantage of by people, particularly their caretakers.  There’s a nasty name for this nasty practice, and it’s called elder abuse.  And most district attorney’s offices investigate it.

So if you have any reason to believe that your brother was abusing your parents, one option would be to contact the local D.A.  In some jurisdictions, there may be a different office that does similar investigations (e.g., Adult Protective Services).

If you aren’t suspicious enough about your brother’s actions to start a criminal investigation, you’re probably stuck doing your own detective work.

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Author: House Attorney

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