How can I find out about a will from abroad?

1 answer | Last updated: Nov 01, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

I am living abroad. I had seen the original copy of my parents' will and the estate was to be split between my sister and myself. Dad went into a nursing home for four months before passing away. He was getting Medicare, Medicaid and $1,400/mo SSI. To make a long story short, I got $1,500 in total (life insurance had me as beneficiary). The adopted sister said the rest of the money went to the nursing home. I've asked SEVERAL times for copies of all the bills, bank statements, etc., along with a copy of the death certificate and got none of it. She bought and sold four homes during the time she had Dad with her, and to top it off, I had received a forwarded bill ($500 still owed from funeral home) when I know that the cremation had been paid for up front. I had Power of Attorney before moving abroad and know for a fact there was at least $160,000 from sale of house etc., in Dad's account. How can I find anything out from abroad? I have sent for a copy of the death cert. I am sure I've been swindled as I did an online background search and found she owes the IRS over $6,000 and the same amount to a utility company. She needs to have retribution and I deserve what my real parents wanted their only blood child to have...half of the estate.

Expert Answers

Your are in a very difficult situation. To find out about handling an inheritance when you live abroad is not easy. Do you know if there was a probate proceeding filed for your father's will? If there was a probate proceeding, there will be a court record of the will assets. But to locate that proceeding, you need to know the county in the U.S. where the proceeding was filed. Then you have to obtain the case number. Then you have to look the case up and read the file. All this would be difficult if you lived in the U.S., and much harder when you live abroad.

Perhaps there was no probate proceeding, because all your father's assets disappeared before his death. Or perhaps they disappeared after it, but nevertheless no court proceeding was held.

Unfortunately, to try to learn what actually happened, you'd need to hire and pay for a lawyer,and perhaps a private investigator as well. That's a substantial expense, when there's surely no guarantee you'll obtain any money back.

Sadly, there's often much truth in the maxim "possession is nine/tenths of the law." It's unlikely you can change that truth in this instance.