What legal rights do I have to a promised inheritance?

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What legal rights do I have to a promised inheritance?

My stepfather passed away almost 2 years ago but prior to his death he said that he would leave me a painting. His wife agreed; this was probably 10 to 12 years before he died. Upon his death, I kept in touch with his wife and we discussed a safe way to transport the painting. Each time I called she would have another excuse as to why I could not either pick up or have the painting transported to my home. The painting was a gift from my father’s friend. My father’s wife has left me voicemails and text messages that her intention is not to keep the painting from me and she does indeed plan on following through with my father’s wishes. Until yesterday she said she has decided not to give me the painting.

Asked on August 5, 2013 under Estate Planning, New York

Answers:

Nathan Wagner / Law Office of Nathan Wagner

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If he only told you verbally that he would leave the painting to you, then you would not have a legal right to it. Many states require that he leave it to you in his will. Some other states sometimes allow a person to leave personal property like a painting to someone in a writing other than a will. In any case, you need it in writing. 

And unforetunately, the fact that she agreed at first to give you the painting does not obligate her to give it to you now. 


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