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SMART MONEY, A COLUMN BY BRUCE WILLIAMS

Stepsiblings under no obligation to share inheritance with woman left out of will

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 12:01 am

Q.: My stepfather recently passed away. He married my mom when I was 10, and I didn't have much contact with my real dad. His wife had died of cancer, and he was left with his two daughters, who lived with us.

We are all grown adults, and I do have a sisterly relationship with my stepsisters. My mom died several years ago, so now there's just the three of us.

My stepfather left a trust for my two sisters, not me. One sister thinks the estate should be divided equally three ways, while the other just gave me some of the money and said that's it. Can I be cut out of an equal share of the estate like that? — Reader, via email

A.: Under the law, a decedent has no obligation to leave money to anyone other than a spouse. Any child, adopted or natural, can be left out of a will, trust or other document.

For whatever reason, your stepfather chose to leave you out, and his daughters have no obligation to share. I don't see where you have any legal rights to any of this money unless you can demonstrate that undo pressure was placed on your stepfather shortly before his demise or that he suffered

Send questions to bruce@ brucewilliams.com or to Smart Money, PO Box 7150, Hudson, FL 34674. Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.