No will

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No will

My stepmother sold my father’s
home and everything in it. My
father told me prior to his
death she could live there then
the home would go to us kids.
We asked for a copy of the
will, she produced an unsigned,
undated, typed document that
says she could sell. I believe
the letter is a fake. What can
I do? There was also 150,000
in stock when he passed, no
mention of that in the letter.
Please help
Brian

Asked on December 18, 2018 under Estate Planning, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

If there was no valid will and no probate of a will, then the home (and anything else your father owned) passes by intestate succession: the rules for who gets what when there is no will. (Exception: if the home was owned by the two of them as "joint tenants with right of survivorship:" or  JTROS, it goes to her because of how they owned it; and any transfer on death bank or investment accounts go to her, too. Things owned in this way do not go by intestate succession.)
It does not matter if the letter is a fake: even if real, it is irrelevant, because only a properly signed and witnessed will controls what happens to property after death. The letter means nothing.
In your state (WI), since she is your stepmother and not mother, she gets 1/2 of everything they owned together and 1/2 of anything he owed separately (e.g. which predated their marriage)--you (and any other children of your father) get the other 1/2. She gets to keep anything she owned separately.
She has therefore seemingly violated the law; you should speak to an attorney (a probate lawyer would be a good one) about how to sue her and recover what should have gone to you.


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