That's only the beginning of the story.
He left no valid will. Or so I've been told. His nephew, who was living with him, called at some point about that and asked me to get involved, since I'm the only real heir. (My parents divorced about the same time I stopped talking to him, and I'm the only child.) I let it slide for a few weeks, which I shouldn't have, but when I called back, he didn't answer. That went on for weeks. Then the machine wouldn't pick up anymore, which means the power went out. After calling around on that side of my family for a while, I found out that he was in jail. Super.
So I found an attorney down there. (He lived about two hours away.) I gave him all the details I had and he said to just fax him a copy of the death certificate, which I had. So I did that, and waited. And waited. I called many times and he never returned my call. So I called back one day and told his secretary, who was the only person I'd spoken with past my initial consultation, that he was fired. I then immediately called another attorney down there and hired him. He had me come down for a day to explain to him what the situation was, and he was rather helpful, pulling real estate records on the spot. Meanwhile, the old lawyer had his secretary call me back to complain that he'd never received anything but the death certificate. Well, duh. That's all he ever asked for. I had called any number of times to find out what I needed to do. The answer was always “nothing”.
While I was down there, I went by Dad's house. It's inside a gated community, which I found odd. Dad was certainly not the kind of person to live in a gated community. As I looked in the windows, I saw that the house was not complete. Most of it was done, but there was no finished flooring or vents. The chimney was raw masonry. And so on. Wonderful. At least the lawyer said that there didn't appear to be a mortgage on it. But how am I going to sell an unfinished house?
Of course, that doesn't take into account the stuff that was packed from (sub-)floor to ceiling. It's not trash or junk, but it's in virtually no order. And there are papers there that date back to before I was born. That'll make it easy to find pertinent papers.
And where did his car go? I called the DMV and they didn't say that there was a lien on it, but suggested that I call the police and tell them that it had been stolen. Of course, I was pretty sure that his nephew had it. The fact that the DMV told me that the insurance had ben renewed after his death tipped me off.
Then the holiday season came up and I let it slide for a while. Now that that's over, I'm back on it. I called his nephew again. He claimed that he had the car at his place “for safe keeping”, because it might get stolen inside the gated community. Of course, he's just using it. I don't know what my libailites would be if it got used in a crime or was involved in an accident. But I'm letting it slide for now.
And now he's telling me that he has some handwritten will that he's trying to get validated. This is the same person that told me that there was no will and I had to take care of this stuff. Personally, I'd have been happy if there had been a will and I got nothing, but now it's my responsibility and I've expended a good deal of effort arguing with it. Anyway, I called his lawyer and she claims that she doesn't have a copy of the will, despite his claim that she should.
That's about how far I've gotten up to today. I'll keep you guys informed. Not that anyone is reading this.