Q: How can I know if my father's eldest daughter claimed an inheritance left for my father, by his last sibling, in PR?
My father's eldest brother, who was unmarried with no children, passed away in 2016, leaving behind property & bank accounts. My father buried his brother and he and I began the process of Declaration of Inheritance, with a Lawyer in PR, from New York, where we live. My father paid the Lawyer for the Declaration, as well as Power of Attorney for me to act on his behalf in PR.
The Lawyer disappeared with my Dad's money and never delivered on the work he was paid to complete. My father nor I have been able to acquire another Lawyer due to financial difficulties and being uneasy about getting a Lawyer for fear that we'll be ripped off again. Now, my father's eldest daughter who has recently begun to be interested in my father, I fear may have gotten my father to "sign away" his inheritance, as my Dad has told me that she's made him sign paperwork without full knowledge of what he was signing (my Dad is blind).
How can I check Court Records in PR, to calm my suspicions?
A: I don't know what happened with your dad's attorney, but that kind of situation could be easily researched. First, by making sure that the attorney is still in office, that is, if he has not passed away or perhaps migrated, as happened with a number of colleagues particularly after hurricane Maria. There is a directory of Puerto Rico attorneys, just like many other jurisdictions have. On the other hand, the PR courts now have an electronic filing system so your case could be searched for to see the status is if any. In general, once a person passes away, there are a number of legal steps required for the assets to be transferred to the heirs. So, for that to be bypassed is very difficult, particularly given the bureaucracy that permeates this type of proceedings. I assume that you have tried to contact the attorney via certified letters with proof of receipt. Finally, as to the possibility of a will by your blind dad, any local attorney would know that a witness would be needed for that to happen, and if it was prepared before November of 2020, then an additional 3 witnesses were needed.
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