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The Moneyist: My stepmother wants to put her name on the deed of my late father’s house, then she says she’ll split it

Dear Moneyist,

My folks were given divorced when I was young and my dad remarried any person and they were given a house in combination, however my dad by no means put her on the deed.

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The house is paid off and his wife wants to now sell it because my father kicked the bucket. My stepmother says she gets half and my father’s two children will cut up the other half.

She called and mentioned her legal professional will ship me paperwork to sign to position her identify on the deed of the house after which she mentioned the house will also be offered and they may be able to cut up the money. Is she looking to pull a fast one on me?


Dear Stepson,

Yes. Maybe. Probably.

When issues don’t make sense, there’s most often just right reason or — on this case — a nasty reason. Your stepmother is correct about one thing: You are entitled to a portion of your father’s house if he didn't depart a will specifying that his wife obtain that property. How much you might be owed as a beneficiary is dependent upon what state you reside in.

In New York, as an example, she would inherit the primary $50,000 of “intestate property” — the property left behind when there is not any will — and half of the whole lot else. So she can be correct, when you reside in New York. In Texas, your stepmother would inherit one-third of your father’s non-community property and the proper to reside in that house for life.

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Back to your question: if you select to sign over your father’s house to your stepmother, there’s no guarantee she would honor that. Also, she must abide by way of the regulations in your state governing distribution of property when there’s no will. Hire an estate legal professional. He or she must advise you to abide by way of the rules of your state and no longer comply with sign anything else.

I won a identical letter a couple of years ago, this time from the stepmother. She sought after to understand whether she may finagle her husband’s life insurance policy, reducing his children out of the image, even supposing he had mentioned in his divorce decree that the life insurance policy was once to visit his youngsters. Does she need the house for herself?

Probably. Maybe. Yes.

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Hello there, MarketWatchers. Check out the Moneyist personal Facebook workforce, the place we search for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas: inheritance, wills, divorce, tipping, gifting. I regularly talk to attorneys, accountants, monetary advisers and other professionals, in addition to providing my very own ideas. I obtain more letters than I may ever answer, so I’ll be bringing all of that steerage — together with some you could no longer see in these columns — to this workforce. Post your questions, tell me what you wish to have to understand more about, or weigh in on the newest Moneyist columns.

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Quentin Fottrell is MarketWatch's personal-finance editor and The Moneyist columnist for MarketWatch. You can apply him on Twitter @quantanamo.

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