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What are my rights to my mother's personal belongings as her only heir?

Franklin, NC |

My mom was very ill with stage 4 cancer and unfortunately passed away the day before her appointment to draw up her will. She was very specific with myself and my step father as to what I was to have. She asked that the house be left to me after he passes away, and left instructions as to which of her personal belongings that she would like me to have. My step dad is now acting as though that conversation never occurred and is giving me a lot of grief over wanting to have things she wanted to leave me. So, since she never had her will made, does that mean that he is automatically entitled to all of her belongings, or do I have any rights? Mind you, there will be very little financial gain on my part, it's mostly sentimental. I don't care if I am not left the house, I just want what she ask

Attorney Answers 3


Very sorry for your loss.
Verbal statements unfortunately are not considered in the probate process.
Assuming your step father was your Mother's second husband he will first be entitled to an Annual Allowance and then approximately 1/6 of the estate under a pretty complicated formula in the North Carolina General Statutes.

Given the personal dynamics between you and your step-father, it may help to retain local counsel to try and negotiate with him and remove the emotional issues from the equation.

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Unfortunately, since your mom did not leave a will, your step dad does not have to honor her wishes. The estate needs to be probated. The step dad inherits half the estate and you and your siblings, if any, inherit the other half. Consult with a probate attorney as soon as you are able. Best wishes.

Please note that I am answering this question as a service through Avvo but not as your attorney and no attorney-client relationship is established by this posting. An attorney-client relationship can only be established through signing a Fee Agreement and paying the necessary advanced fees.

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Verbal statements are meaningless in probate matters. A written Will is required. In the absence of a Will, you are definitely not the only heir. Your step-father would be an heir as well, and a favored heir, in most states. It is likely that he is entitled to exemptions and allowances. He is also entitled to any assets that were jointly held and/or where he was designated as the beneficiary. Personal items are particularly tough, because he can claim that those were jointly owned and not your mother's. Your best bet is to contact an attorney to help you determine the facts of the situation and how best for you to proceed.

Your mother did you a big disservice by failing to properly plan her estate.

James Frederick

***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ***************************************** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state. I hope you our answer helpful!

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