Unfortunately, if the credit union account was owned jointly by your father and his wife, then she was entitled to receive all the funds upon his passing. If those were his only assets, then there would be no "probate" assets that would be distributed according to the terms of his will, and no reason to even file the will with any court. If you would like to be compensated for taking care of your father's dog, you can ask your step-mother about that. However, if there was no prior agreement that you would do that and get paid for it, she would have no obligation to pay you. Good luck -
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I agree with Attorney Harvey. It is not entirely clear what you mean when you say, "his wife's name was on the other side of the account." Accounts do not have sides. There is ownership. If it is jointly owned, then upon the death of the first owner, the money passes by operation of law to the surviving owner. There are some limited exceptions to this, such as where it is clear from the facts, that the money was intended to be part of the estate upon death. Absent some express Will provision to that extent, you have not stated any reason to think this was the case in your situation.
As far as the dog is concerned, I do not see how you will be able to seek money damages for taking care of it. I suspect it would not be worth the cost of trying.
I am very sorry for your loss.
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Mr. Frederick's answer is good and should answer your question. If it was a joint account (joint with right of survivorship) upon your father's passing the entire account automatically went the surviving joint tenant (I assume your step mom). It is then hers and she can do with it what she wants. Sometimes people mistakenly include such an account in their will thinking it will pass under their will but it does not in the case you describe.
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If the money was held in a joint account then the surviving joint account holder would most likely have a right to the money and it would not be a part of the probate estate. The money specifically bequested in the will would have to come from another source of assets in the probate estate and if there was none then the bequest can not be fulfilled.
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