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

Dear Moneyist,

My father was once married to his wife for 22 years. He died in March. I recently found out he left a area in my identify. My stepmother has 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 learning. He additionally has houses in his identify handiest, even though she has houses as neatly. I consider she has stolen money owed to me. How can I am going about preventing for my father’s things? Do I've a preventing likelihood? I am his first born.

Daughter in Michigan

Dear Daughter,

It’s not a query of you having a preventing likelihood. This isn’t a battle of wills or a clash of personalities or an opportunity for someone — your stepmother, integrated — to settle outdated scores. This could also be a demanding and emotional scenario, but it is a felony factor and your stepmother is obliged to apply the rule of the regulation. Hiring an lawyer to lend a hand you'll be value it depending on the size of your father’s estate. Any money or assets taken from your father’s estate will have to be returned. You want to acquire the relevant information about what is owed to you.

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If the home is on your identify, it’s yours. If your father died intestate — with no will — you are going to additionally 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 primary $100,000 of your father’s estate. (You mother would inherit the primary $150,000 of your father’s estate in the event that they were nonetheless married.) After that, your stepmother would receive half of the estate and your father’s direct heirs (you and your siblings) will receive the opposite half. The probate court docket 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 need. File a petition with the county court docket to look if there was once a will filed. In Michigan the executor or administrator of an estate is known as a “private consultant.” Beneficiaries and heirs must be notified by way of the private consultant. According to the Michigan Legislature, “A personal consultant is a fiduciary who shall practice the usual of care appropriate to a trustee …The private consultant shall keep each presumptive distributee knowledgeable of the estate agreement.”

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Hello there, MarketWatchers. Check out the Moneyist personal Facebook staff, the place we look for solutions to existence’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all kinds of dilemmas: inheritance, wills, divorce, tipping, gifting. I continuously talk to lawyers, accountants, financial advisers and different mavens, along with offering my own thoughts. I receive more letters than I could ever resolution, so I’ll be bringing all of that steerage — together with some chances are you'll not see in these columns — to this staff. Post your questions, tell me what you need to grasp more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.