Q: My mother died in 2001 without a will. How do I retrieve my property?
My mother died in 2001 without a will. I have two brothers, one has passed away. The property left without a will is located in Barneveld, NY. It is 5 acres. My brother who passed away was the executor of the estate. I asked him for years to give me my portion of the property or buy it from me. He refused. I have been living in Florida since my mother died. My brother's wife still lives in a home adjacent to this property. Can you help me determine how I can either sell the property, get a quit claim deed, or sell it to my sister in law? She is in her 80s now and I am not sure if she will cooperate since I have not been able to get this settled all these years. Thanks. Jolie
A: In NYS, if your mother died a widow and without a will, then your brother was never an executor. If he was an administrator recognized by the court there is a record of that in Surrogate's Court. If you are entitled to a share of the property in this if your mother died intestate (without a will), that share is determined by NYS law. Your brother's widow may be without power to do anything with the property. All this assumes that the title to the property was not shared with another person, such as your brother. You are really overdue in having a NYS attorney review the documents and check the Surrogate Court records to see what the status of the property really is.
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