What are a step-grandmother’s rights to their deceased step-grandchild’s property?

I had a son who was 30 years old who went to stay with his grandfather’s wife after his grandfather died to help take care of her. My son lived with her about 2 years before he passed away unexpectedly. He let it be known to everyone that if something should happen to him that all of his belongs would go to his nieces. Shortly after my son’s death, his step-grandmother transferred the title to my son’s car into her name, sold some of my son’s property and gave away a lot of his belongs without asking permission. She is not his legal grandmother and my son did not give her any rights to do this. Can she legally do this knowing that he left everything to his nieces? He did not owe her any money.

Asked on March 21, 2014 under Estate Planning, Alabama


Anne Brady / Law Office of Anne Brady

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

No, what the step-grandmother did amounted to theft.  If the nieces want to, they can turn her into the local police in the jurisdiction where she lives and have her charged with criminal theft.  They can also bring a lawsuit against her for civil theft and/or conversion.  It might be better to try first asking her to honor the terms of the will, but if she will not, litigation may be necessary. 

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