New York Probate Law Questions
My mother's cousin died in New York City and it appears that Mom is the last surviving relative. We live in Texas. We will need a lawyer, but Mom's on a budget, and we'd appreciate any general information that anyone has to offer about the process, including:
-Typically, how much documentation is needed for a NY Kinship Hearing? Mom is working under the assumption that she will need birth, marriage and death certificates to document the family tree. Does this sound right? Most of the family was born in rural Texas before 1930, so vital statistics may be hard to get.
-Also, we know very little about the cousin's father and may have to rely on friends' testimony there. What is typical here, notarized statements? We need to make a dilligent search, but we just don't know much about him. He may have been in jail at some point; would the department of corrections be a good resource?
-Finally (and most important), we need a lawyer versed in New York probate law. Living in Texas, how should we go about selecting this lawyer? An attorney friend had no suggestions. A close friend of the deceased (a stranger to us) has been working with a lawyer, but we know nothing about them, and we have no idea whether to trust them, take our chances with a referral service, or... what? Can anyone offer any suggestions on how to secure effective representation from afar?
I appreciate any help that can be offered. I realize that the SDMB is not a legal or referral agency, but we're a little stuck here, and could use some help.