My father was married to his wife for 22 years. He died in March. I recently found out he left a house in my name. My stepmother has not mentioned the house to me at all. I donât know if he has a will and nor do I know how to go about finding out. He also has properties in his name only, although she has properties as well. I believe she has stolen money owed to me. How can I go about fighting for my fatherâs things? Do I have a fighting chance? I am his first born.
Daughter in Michigan
Itâs not a question of you having a fighting chance. This isnât a battle of wills or a clash of personalities or an opportunity for anyone â your stepmother, included â to settle old scores. This may be a stressful and emotional situation, but this is a legal issue and your stepmother is obliged to follow the rule of the law. Hiring an attorney to help you may be worth it depending on the size of your fatherâs estate. Any money or belongings taken from your fatherâs estate should be returned. You need to gather the relevant facts about what is owed to you.
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If the house is in your name, itâs yours. If your father died intestate â without a will â you will also likely inherit a portion of your fatherâs estate. The law varies from state to state, but in Michigan your stepmother would receive the first $100,000 of your fatherâs estate. (You mother would inherit the first $150,000 of your fatherâs estate if they were still married.) After that, your stepmother would receive half of the estate and your fatherâs direct heirs (you and your siblings) will receive the other half. The probate court will distribute property that is not jointly owned by your stepmother and father.
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All beneficiaries are entitled to receive a copy of the will. File a petition with the county court to see if there was a will filed. In Michigan the executor or administrator of an estate is known as a âpersonal representative.â Beneficiaries and heirs must be notified by the personal representative. According to the Michigan Legislature, âA personal representative is a fiduciary who shall observe the standard of care applicable to a trustee â¦The personal representative shall keep each presumptive distributee informed of the estate settlement.â
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