Q: My dad recently passed away, my brother has access to all paperwork and says there was no will, how do I know the truth?
I believe there are several IRA accounts my dad had and that my brother is keeping them from me. I don't know how to find out if he is just claiming he is the only child and therefore entitled to all his benefits
You can't know 'for sure' unless there IS a will, or if you've seen one in the past and you KNOW your father didn't revoke it before he died.
IF there were beneficiaries named on the IRAs then you could contact the account holders as a beneficiary with a death certificate and ask. Did your father own real estate or titled vehicles? Do you have any other documentation about his assets?
If I were in your position, I'd gather ALL the documents I could (do an asset search through one of the websites available if you don't have the actual titles/information) and bring all that information to a local probate attorney for advice about what you can do. As an adult child, you may have priority to act as his personal representative if your brother does not, but again, you need legal advice to insure you do this properly.
-- This answer is offered for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney/client relationship.
I am licensed to practice in Michigan only. Please seek competent local legal help if you feel you need legal advice
John Joseph Rizzo III agrees with this answer
If your father used an attorney or firm, you may be able to get information about any documents. Sometimes you can track down an attorney through passing comments, business cards, branded sticky notes, etc. The same advice would work for the IRAs, you would be looking for any mention of a financial planner or insurance salesman. Tax preparers are also a good source of information.
You can check with the probate court for any counties he resided in on the off chance he filed a will.
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