Right to monies cashed before death but listed in will

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Right to monies cashed before death but listed in will

My father passed about 5 month ago. He had a large sum in savings bonds that were to be used for hospice care in the event they were needed, otherwise the money was to be given to my brother, my children and I. Our stepmother decided it was best to have him cash them and put the proceeds into an account with her name several days before his passing. Long story short we are getting the basic gist that she has been advised that since they are no longer in the form of bonds and now in her name, she technically did not have to give us the money. However, my understanding is that the estate is still open and we have never been allowed to see the ill. Do we have any recourse if she does not follow through with our father’s wishes? This was publicly discussed between all of its prior to his death and the estate attorney is aware as is other parties. Do we have a right to request to see the Will?

Asked on September 17, 2016 under Estate Planning, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, you do not have any recourse. In the first place, if his wishes were not expressed in a written legal document, like a will, they are not enforceable at all--someone's oral expression of what they'd like to be done with  their assets has no binding effect. Second, even if they had been expressed in a written will, a will only comes into effect upon death, and does not in any way control what happens to the assets listed in the will prior to death--the will basically says "IF I still have those assets when I pass away, use them for...." Therefore, if he cashed them and gave the proceeds to your step mother while he was still alive, the proceeds are hers no, and whatever wishes he may otherwise have expressed orally or in a will or similar document have no effect.


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