What are my rights if my stepfather died?

UPDATED: Sep 1, 2011

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What are my rights if my stepfather died?

I just found out my stepfather died 6 months ago and no one told me. His property was also in my mother’s name (she died 3 years ago) and I want to get a part of the inheritance. He and I sat and wrote out a guideline for me to oversee the division of his property should anything happen to him but he was killed in a tornado which destroyed any documents that we had written. Now his daughter who had nothing to do with him has filed a petition in probate court. What do I need to do to ensure that I am not left out?

Asked on September 1, 2011 under Estate Planning, Arkansas


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Whether or not you stand to inherit any portion of your late step-father's estate will be set forth in the will that his daughter has submitted to probate. A bequest in a will is a gift to the beneficiaries who are not entitled to any portion of the deceased's estate as a matter of right.

If you were never legally adopted by your late step-father, under the intestacy laws of your state you would not be entitled to any inheritance an heir who happened to have been overlooked in a will.

You need to go down to the courthouse and read the will that is being probated. The court file is a public record for all to view. If you are not named in your late step-father's will, then he intended not to leave you any gift as part of his estate.


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