One of your cousins or your uncle’s caretaker was supposed to notify you of your uncle’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 uncle.
They may have lived closer to him and had more interaction with him. 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 uncle 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 uncle’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 his death also kept you in the dark about his assets and what happened to his estate. You may be concerned that they had your uncle 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 uncle’s assets while he was alive. You think that they may be hiding assets from you.
In addition to not informing you of your uncle’s death, they are probably also refusing to communicate with you regarding his 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 uncle’s agent under a Power of attorney. They may also be an agent under your uncle’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 uncle’s death, there may be other things that they did not notify you about, like your uncle making a will that diminishes your interest in his 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 uncle’s remains and the estate that they left behind.
It is unfortunate when family dysfunction shows itself after an uncle’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 his caretaker don’t want you there. You may have the right to determine how your uncle’s remains are laid to rest. You have the right to receive a copy of his 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 uncle may have suffered from a stroke and may have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, which may have diminished his mental capacity to make a valid will.
If you were not notified of your uncle’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.