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4.) Establish a relationship with a lawyer.
We have had a trust and wills. We been through handling my FIL's trust when he passed away. When events occur, it helps to have access to lawyer that you can trust.

This cannot be overemphasized.

My mother had a very good lawyer, a member of the trust and wills department at the law office.
After my mother died, we also got Elliot Spitzer to help out; he was the attorney general of the State of New York at the time.

My mother's will was quite simple (about four pages) dividing her estate into four equal pieces, one to each of her three children, and one to her church. None of us disagreed with any of it. But the corrupt probate court judge declared my mother had died intestate on the grounds that the witnesses were not present when my mother signed the will. The witnesses were still alive and filed affidavits declaring that they were present when my mother signed the will, and the notary who notarized the will declared that she was present when all the others were there. The judge ignored that, appointed the daughter of a friend of hers to be the administrator of the will. And state law gave the administrator no options: the estate had to be divided in three equal parts, one to each of my mother's children, and the church got nothing. And the administrator was to get $20,000 for her trouble.

Now the attorney general has lots of authority in such matters when one of the beneficiaries is a charity, and is automatically an attorney for the charity. He said as far as he was concerned, the will was perfectly valid. So my mother's attorney (who was to have been the executor) and Spitzer's office came to an agreement whereby my sisters and I each got 1/3 of the estate, but we signed a binding agreement to give 1/4 of our inheritances to the church. It took about a year to straighten it all out. The judge did this for lots of cases, and Spitzer was really pissed. I hope he found a way to get that judge impeached.
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