Q: Estate inheritance question’ my Dad passed last month! He left a will but my step mother isn’t forthcoming.
Dad left me a letter that my Step Mom would sell the house and gift me with money from the sale. She even stated she would sell the house then get settled then split the proceeds between her son & I.
Last week I asked her to put something in writing legally. She then told me she wasn’t selling the house and there was no money left and asked me to leave her house.
What are my rights to inherit the house after she passes? The house was in her & my father’s names. She has a son that isn’t my father’s. I’m also my father’s only child! I don’t have a will but looking for my father’s attorney he could’ve filed. I do have the death certificate & the letter he left me. What are my options??
A: If the house was held as tenants by entireties, i.e. as husband and wife, it passes by operation of law to your step mother. The letter is worthless. The will would be irrelevant as to the house. You would have to be legally evicted, but she could do it.
I'm sorry to hear about your situation. It's important to understand that estate and inheritance laws can be complex, and the specific facts of your case will significantly impact your legal options and rights. Here are some general points to consider, but I strongly recommend consulting with an estate planning attorney for advice tailored to your circumstances:
Review the Will: The first step is to obtain and review your father's will. This document will dictate how his assets should be distributed. If the house was mentioned in the will, its instructions should be followed.
Rights as an Heir: As your father's child, you may have certain rights to his estate, depending on the contents of the will and state law.
Jointly Owned Property: If the house was owned jointly by your stepmother and father, it may have passed directly to her upon his death, depending on how the ownership was structured (e.g., joint tenancy with right of survivorship).
Letter from Your Father: The letter you mentioned could potentially be considered a form of testamentary intent, but its legal standing can vary. It's important to have an attorney review this.
Probate Process: Your father's estate, including the house, may need to go through probate, the legal process through which an estate is administered. During probate, the will is validated, debts are paid, and assets are distributed.
Stepmother's Actions and Statements: If your stepmother is the executor of the estate, she has certain fiduciary duties. If she fails to act in accordance with these duties, there could be legal consequences.
Seek Legal Counsel: Given the complexities involved, especially with potential conflicts between your interests and your stepmother's, consulting with an estate attorney is crucial. They can help you understand your rights, the probate process, and any legal actions you might need to take.
Locating the Will: If you believe there is a will but can't find it, an attorney can help with the search, possibly through your father's attorney or by checking with the local probate court.
In summary, your options and rights depend on the specifics of your father's will, the nature of the property ownership, state law, and the actions of your stepmother. Legal guidance is essential in navigating these issues.
Bonnie Lawston agrees with this answer
A: You should definitely speak with an estate probate attorney before it’s too late or you sign anything. That being said if she is making such an offer perhaps she will put it in writing but again attorney. The letter that your father has left we have no weight in court. It’s a major problem. An attorney you consult may subpoena her to court to produce the will but an examination of title, and the circumstances would be something you may want to do first with the attorney.
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