Home Stock market My father died from COVID-19, and left no will. My stepmother threatened to sell our family heirlooms — unless we sign over our claim to his estate. What can we do?

My father died from COVID-19, and left no will. My stepmother threatened to sell our family heirlooms — unless we sign over our claim to his estate. What can we do?

by kyngsam


My dad handed away from COVID-19 in April 2020. He was a primary responder at a walk-in clinic, and was in nice well being with no underlying well being circumstances. His dying continues to be a shock to me as he and I have been very shut.

My sister, our stepmother of 5 years, her son and I are left behind. My father didn’t depart a will. It has been over two months, and now we have now simply obtained monetary info concerning our dad’s property.

My stepmother employed a lawyer who desires us to signal papers to say she will get every little thing (our household’s cash, plus his home and automotive) and my sister and I principally get nothing (simply sufficient to cowl one semester of school).

She initially agreed to separate every little thing evenly, and now she is denying any point out of that. She claims she desires all of this to be “honest” and the court docket system is “honest” when she is aware of none of that is respectable.

She mentioned if we don’t signal our rights over, she’s going to put every little thing via probate, together with memorable gadgets like household heirlooms, garments, photos or something she presumably may. What ought to our subsequent transfer be?

Feeling Trapped

Pricey Trapped,

Please settle for my heartfelt condolences. I’m sorry you misplaced your father to COVID-19. Shedding a member of the family when it’s so tough to make hospital visits throughout a pandemic is very tough. I’m assuming that your father was a superb man and a trusting soul who would need you to have your share of his property beneath the legislation, and likewise regain possession of mementoes that you simply maintain so expensive.

Onto the disagreeable dilemma going through you and your sibling: Your father’s widow is making a reasonably brazen guess, and it’s one which boldly assumes you have no idea your rights. Throughout this emotionally taxing and grief-stricken time, she and her lawyer are counting on you making a hasty choice, and signing on the dotted line. My first and final piece of recommendation: Don’t do it.


This column is all the time about cash and it’s by no means about cash. Usually occasions, our most regretful monetary selections are made based mostly on impulse, fatigue, resentment, anger and, sure, concern.


— The Moneyist

This column is all the time about cash and it’s by no means about cash. We’re emotional animals and, typically occasions, our most regretful monetary selections are made based mostly on impulse, fatigue, resentment, anger and, sure, concern. Don’t make these errors at the moment. The ways employed by your stepmother, particularly coming so near the dying of a beloved member of the family, too typically work.

Nevertheless, your stepmother has far fewer playing cards to play than she would really like you to consider. Take New York: Attorneys Worth Benowitz LLP outlines intestacy legislation there thus: “If there’s a partner and no youngsters, the partner receives 100% of the property. If there’s a partner and kids, the partner receives $50,000 plus half of the stability of the property. The kids inherit every little thing else.”

Additionally see: My wife and I bailed out our son with his mortgage and car payments, and set up 529s for his kids — yet we have the daughter-in-law from hell

There are various state-level variations on that inheritance construction for many who die intestate or with no will. Search authorized counsel and learn the way intestate legislation performs out in your state. It is best to waste no time in contesting or preempting any motion taken by your stepmother. You may petition the probate court docket to take away your stepmother as administrator of your father’s property.

Households have come a cropper over far lower than this. This daughter fell out along with her mom over a stitching machine. Ought to these household heirlooms stay in your stepmother’s possession after the property is split, you can — as a final resort — attend the property sale, or have a pals attend for you and bid over the telephone. It might be undignified, however it could be a narrative to inform your youngsters.

Her son will not be a authorized inheritor to your father’s property. He doesn’t determine within the equation. It’s true that regaining possession of household heirlooms is tough with no will, however you’ve gotten a greater likelihood ordering the court docket to freeze your late father’s property, utilizing the complete weight of the authorized course of to place your religion within the fingers of the courts moderately than within the fingers of your stepmother.

Your stepmother is an unreliable narrator. The time has come to discover a lawyer you may belief.

Additionally see: ‘Nothing is ever his fault, everyone is out to get him.’ Our brother inherited our late mother’s home and it was repossessed. He’s now in prison — do I send him money?

Do you’ve gotten questions on inheritance, tipping, weddings, household feuds, pals or any difficult points referring to manners and cash? Ship them to MarketWatch’s Moneyist and please embody the state the place you reside (no full names can be used).

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