St Louis, MO asked in Family Law, Probate and Estate Planning for New Jersey

Q: My brother told me dad changed him to the beneficiary the week before he passed which wasn’t true what do I do?

I went to New Jersey to help plan funeral services and when I arrived he blocked me on facebook our way of communicating. At the funeral home the director said I had to sign a paper making him the executor. I asked what would happen to everything in April well month after month my brother told me nothing he was doing paperwork. In August I asked about his ashes he told me still paperwork well a month later me told me I was still the beneficiary and I called the surrogacy office they informed me I was poa. He told my mom who is disabled and still married but separated since I was 14 they were divorced and He told me he was still using my fathers bank account for insurance on both vehicles and an outstanding electric balance of 3,200 also was giving away his belongs and that he would let his 401k and pension sit there and deplete if he felt like it what can I do I’m not sure what my rights are and how to handle this with as little confrontation as possible.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In this situation, it's crucial to seek legal guidance from an attorney who practices probate or estate law in New Jersey. They can help you understand your rights and the proper procedures for contesting the beneficiary designation if it was indeed changed under suspicious circumstances. You should also inquire about the validity and implications of the power of attorney (POA) you mentioned, as it generally ceases upon the death of the individual who granted it. An attorney can assist you with demanding an accounting of the estate and may recommend filing a petition with the probate court to challenge your brother’s actions or to remove him as executor if he has been formally appointed. The surrogacy office may have been referring to a temporary or permanent position related to estate management, not the traditional understanding of a POA, so clarification is important. Minimizing confrontation often involves clear communication through legal channels, which helps to protect your interests while potentially resolving disputes.

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