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The Moneyist: My stepmother stole money owed to me and won’t tell me if my late father left a will

Dear Moneyist,

My father was once married to his spouse for 22 years. He died in March. I latterly came upon he left a space in my identify. My stepmother has now not discussed the home to me in any respect. I don’t know if he has a will and nor do I know the way to head about studying. He also has houses in his identify most effective, even if she has houses as smartly. I believe she has stolen money owed to me. How can I'm going about preventing for my father’s things? Do I have a preventing chance? I'm his first born.

Daughter in Michigan

Dear Daughter,

It’s now not a query of you having a preventing chance. This isn’t a fight of wills or a clash of personalities or a possibility for anyone — your stepmother, integrated — to settle old rankings. This could also be a aggravating and emotional state of affairs, but it is a criminal issue and your stepmother is obliged to practice the rule of the regulation. Hiring an legal professional to lend a hand you will be value it relying on the dimension of your father’s estate. Any money or property taken out of your father’s estate will have to be returned. You need to acquire the related facts about what's owed to you.

Also see: My brother stole my $110,000 inheritance by way of altering our mom’s will

If the home is in your identify, it’s yours. If your father died intestate — and not using a will — you will also most probably inherit a portion of your father’s estate. The regulation varies from state to state, but in Michigan your stepmother would receive the first $100,000 of your father’s estate. (You mom would inherit the first $150,000 of your father’s estate in the event that they were still married.) After that, your stepmother would receive half of the estate and your father’s direct heirs (you and your siblings) will receive the other half. The probate courtroom will distribute assets that's not collectively owned by way of your stepmother and father.

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All beneficiaries are entitled to receive a duplicate of the desire. File a petition with the county courtroom to see if there was once a will filed. In Michigan the executor or administrator of an estate is referred to as a “personal representative.” Beneficiaries and heirs will have to be notified by way of the personal representative. According to the Michigan Legislature, “A private representative is a fiduciary who shall practice the usual of care applicable to a trustee …The personal representative shall keep each and every presumptive distributee informed of the estate settlement.”

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Hello there, MarketWatchers. Check out the Moneyist personal Facebook crew, the place we look for solutions to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all types of dilemmas: inheritance, wills, divorce, tipping, gifting. I incessantly communicate to attorneys, accountants, financial advisers and different mavens, in addition to providing my own ideas. I receive more letters than I could ever solution, so I’ll be bringing all of that steering — together with some chances are you'll now not see in those columns — to this crew. Post your questions, tell me what you need to understand more about, or weigh in on the newest Moneyist columns.