Can you leave anyoneyour propertyina Will?

UPDATED: May 31, 2011

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

UPDATED: May 31, 2011Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Can you leave anyoneyour propertyina Will?

Father and unmarried girlfriend both died within 2 years time; father died first then she died.  The house was split 3 ways to myself, my brother and her. Girlfriend in turn left her 1/3 share to a daughter she said she adopted and raised. Nobody has ever met the so-called daughter. Is this legal without any proof of her being raised as one of my father’s children. This was my mother and father’s house until my mother passed and the girlfriend moved in. Do we have any recourse?

Asked on May 31, 2011 under Estate Planning, Michigan


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

First of all, whether or not the person in question is in fact your late stepmother's daughter has no bearing here. A person can bequeath property to whomever they wish; there need be no family relationship.

The real matter at hand is what, if any, right did your stepmother have to transfer her share of the property in the first place? How did the 3 of you hold title to the house - was it as "joint tenants with rights of survivorshiop"(JTWROS) or as "tenants in common"(TIC).  If it was as JTWROS then upon her death you and your brother would have automatically taken over her interest in the property by operation of law. Therefore, she had nothing to convey to her "daughter" in her Will.  If, however, you held title as TIC, then your stepmother could freely gift her interest in the house to whoever she pleased. In that case, her daughter is now an equal 1/3 owner along with you and your brother. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption