What are my rights when I am named in a Will but assets have been liquidated?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What are my rights when I am named in a Will but assets have been liquidated?

My father died 26 months ago. He had a Will leaving everything to his wife, upon her death her daughter gets half and I get half. The wife just passed away but I have found out that she had been liquidating assets and has

already sent a check for $450,000 to her daughter. I know I will need to get a

lawyer, which will be costly but I really don’t know where to begin. The

executor of the Will is my step-sister’s ex-husband. Any guidance will be greatly appreciated.

Asked on August 26, 2018 under Estate Planning, Louisiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If everything was left to his wife, then your father could not control what happened to the assets after that: once they were left to his wife, they became hers, and she could spend, liquidate, gift, etc. them, and when she passed away, they would do to whomever she willed them to or who otherwise would inherit from her. A person cannot control happens to what he leaves or gives others after they get them. Now, there are certain ways he could have structured things so his wife did NOT in fact inherit everything on his death: putting the assets into a trust that would pay her certain amounts while preserving the rest for her daughter and you; giving her a life estate in real estate to live in a house  for the rest of her life, while giving the "remainder" interest in the property to her daughter and you. But if he did not set up things the right way, if he simply left his estate to his wife, it became his wife's to do with whatever she wanted, and also give to,and leave to (e.g. in her will) whomever she wanted. You need to have an attorney evaluate your father's will to see if you do in fact have a right to anything--you may not.

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