One of your cousins or your aunt’s caretaker was supposed to notify you of your aunt’s death, but they did not. They should have notified you, but they did not. It’s possible that the person who did not inform you had more access to your aunt. They may have lived closer to her and had more interaction with her. They may or may not have informed you of the date of death, of the wake, funeral or showing. Your emotion at this point may be, you feel left out and cheated out of the important process of saying good-bye to your aunt and robbed of a chance to grieve their death at a proper time. You may be experiencing shock and anger at the conduct of those who did not notify or inform you of your aunt’s death.
You may also be concerned with the issue of their estate or inheritance. Concerned that the same people that did not inform you about her death also kept you in the dark about her assets and what happened to her estate. You may be concerned that they had your aunt leave a will cutting you out or giving you a diminished share, and you may suspect that they might have gotten a hold of your aunt’s assets while he was alive. You think that they may be hiding assets from you.
In addition to not informing you of your aunt’s death, they are probably also refusing to communicate with you regarding her last will and testament, pension plan, insurance, house and other assets. They are probably refusing to give you information and notices about the estate.
The person who did not notify you may be your aunt’s agent under a Power of attorney. They may also be an agent under your aunt’s Health Care Proxy (New York name for a Health Care Power of Attorney).
You suspect that since they did not notify you of your aunt’s death, there may be other things that they did not notify you about, like your aunt making a will that diminishes your interest in her inheritance.
In New York, there is no lawsuit that you can bring to ger reimbursed for the mental anguish that this betrayal has cost you. But you do have important rights in regards to your aunt’s remains and the estate that they left behind.
It is unfortunate when family dysfunction shows itself after an aunt’s death. The people who did not notify you may be angry and confused and they may be trying to take that anger out on you. You in turn may be angry at them for not notifying you. It’s important to address the feelings of grief and anger and not let them cloud everyone’s judgment.
You have the right to be present at the funeral, even if your cousins or her caretaker don’t want you there. You may have the right to determine how your aunt’s remains are laid to rest. You have the right to receive a copy of her will. If you suspect that the will is invalid, you have the right to contest the will. The grounds for contesting a will are incorrect will execution, lack of mental capacity, undue influence, fraud and duress. Your aunt may have suffered from a stroke and may have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, which may have diminished her mental capacity to make a valid will.
If you were not notified of your aunt’s death and have questions about what happens next, you can call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233 or (718) 509-9774.