Inheritance Recovery: $120,000

probate case study grandmother will

Robinson & Henry Client Collects $120,000 from Grandmother’s Estate

As the old adage goes, death can bring out the worst or the best in people. A grandmother’s death challenged the family bonds for one Robinson & Henry client.

In the following case study, you’ll read how Robinson & Henry successfully helped a client recover their rightful inheritance. In fact, as a result of our investigation, we secured for our client more than double what he expected to receive.

Past results afford no guarantee of future results. Each matter is different and must be judged on its own merits. Facts are those of an actual Robinson & Henry probate case. The client’s and opposing party’s names were changed for privacy.

Introduction

Robinson & Henry client Jason was confident his grandmother had left him an inheritance. However, despite patiently waiting months after her death, he was never contacted about his portion of the estate.

Jason learned through the familial grapevine that his grandmother’s estate was being settled without him.

“My sister said, ‘This is wrong. You need to push for your rights on this,'” Jason recalled.                                                                                       

Background

Jason grew up having a strong relationship with his grandparents. Jason’s mother passed away when he was young, and Jason remained connected with his grandmother and grandfather. The couple informed Jason they planned to leave him a portion of their estate.

When Jason’s grandfather passed away, the allocation of his estate was uneventful. However, the same would not hold true for his grandmother’s estate.

The Personal Representative

In 2017, Jason’s grandmother passed away. Unbeknownst to him, his Aunt Maureen emerged as the estate’s personal representative.

Personal representatives have many responsibilities, including taking inventory of assets, paying final debts, and distributing funds to heirs. They also have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the estate, and they must be impartial and put aside their personal interests.

As the personal representative, Maureen was obligated to notify all of the estate’s interested parties about her position, including Jason. Despite Jason’s correct phone number listed in the will, his aunt never called him. He also never received an inventory of the estate detailing his inheritance.

The Will & Probate Court

As the will underwent the probate process, Jason learned through his sister that their grandmother had left him $50,000.

Jason did not have a close relationship with his aunt, but he nevertheless contacted her through social media.

“I sent [Maureen] a Facebook message saying I was supposed to get something. She said, ‘There’s nothing for you,’” Jason recalled.

Months later, Jason found out the estate was closed.

The Challenge 

Jason’s attempts to reason with his aunt about the will’s contents and his inheritance proved fruitless. It was clear he had reached an impasse with Maureen, and he would need an attorney to resolve the matter.

Jason brought his case to Robinson & Henry, P.C. probate attorney Angie Schmitz. Angie, who has helped many families resolve complex estate disputes, immediately began to investigate.

How R&H Investigated the Matter

Attorney Angie Schmitz obtained the will and pulled records from probate court. Her research revealed the court had twice rejected Maureen’s filing because Jason had been excluded from the list of interested parties. Only after Jason was added to the document did the court allow the will to be finalized.

Court records indicated no funds remained after the estate’s final debts were paid. That meant Jason would not receive his $50,000 inheritance.

While this was disappointing news, Angie felt they had not exhausted all of their efforts.

More Research Uncovered Additional Property

Angie scrutinized the will, and she discovered Jason’s grandmother owned other real estate. In addition to her home, there was a second house to which Jason might have had the rights.

The will stated that certain real estate was “residual property.” Residual property is property that belongs to the deceased individual, but it is not specifically addressed in the will. Wills often include a clause that directs how residual property should be divided among certain people.

Jason’s mother was entitled to part of the residual property, which included the real estate. Since she had passed away many years before, her share would pass to Jason.

Even though he had legal rights to collect his mother’s portion of that property, he had not received it.

The Legal Options

Jason could have gone straight to court and filed a surcharge action. A surcharge action attempts to hold a personal representative liable for allegedly breaching their fiduciary duty.

A judge can order the personal representative to rectify the mishandling if there is enough evidence to prove mismanagement or wrong doing.

Litigation, though, can be costly, time consuming, and emotionally draining.

For most clients, it’s generally more cost effective to first approach the opposing party to try to understand what happened. If there was a mistake, they may be willing to correct it.

Jason and Angie chose the latter option.

The Solution & Outcome

Angie initiated discussions with Maureen’s attorney to learn what may have gone wrong when she tried to execute the will.

Angie’s knowledge of probate law, such as Jason’s rights to his mother’s share of the estate, helped him reach a favorable outcome.

After Angie explained her interpretation of the will, Maureen agreed to settle with Jason.

He received a third of two properties’ values totaling more than $120,000 plus attorney fees.

Jason credits the results to Angie’s strong research skills and astuteness of Colorado’s probate law.

“Her knowledge was amazing,” Jason said. “The wrongs were righted. [My aunt] shouldn’t have gotten away with it, and she didn’t.”

Do You Have a Probate Problem?

If you believe a personal representative is withholding your inheritance, you should consider contacting a probate attorney. A probate lawyer can also help you understand a will or trust. She or he will be able to detect complicated provisions that you may not pick up on right away.

Beneficiaries have protections, but timelines can be short to assert your rights in the event of possible mismanagement.

Schedule a Free Case Assessment

Call 303-688-0944, 24 hours a day, to set up some time to talk with one of our probate attorneys. You may also schedule online.

Past results afford no guarantee of future results. Each matter is different and must be judged on its own merits. Facts are those of an actual Robinson & Henry probate case. The client’s and opposing party’s names were changed for privacy.

 

More Than Just Lawyers. Lawyers for Your Life.

Learn more about our law firm’s philosophy and values.