How do I get my step-dad to talk to me about mom's will?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 03, 2016
1350 asked...

My mother died in 2006, her & my step father were married for 30 plus years they had 2 homes built together, i'm my mothers only blood child she ever gave birth to, my step father wont talk to me to let me know if mom had a will, what rights do i have& futher more how can i make him legally answer me? there were paintings from my grandfather & other such things that i want so that i may pass them onto my sons, he is getting re-married so what happens after that?

Expert Answers

Judy and Fred co-mediate family property and financial conflicts, and each work individually as mediators as well. Judy Barber, a mediator and family business consultant, assists clients in resolving overlapping family and money conflicts so they are better able to make sound estate planning decisions. Frederick Hertz is an attorney and mediator who specializes in resolving co-ownership matters involving families, siblings, spouses, cohabitants and domestic partners.

As difficult it may seem, it is important for you to find a way to talk with your stepfather about these issues. You probably could have filed a legal challenge in 2006 in the probate court. An attempt now to force him to answer to you legally would be a long and expensive proceeding "“ assuming that is even possible for you to file such a claim years after your mother died.

Based on what appears to be a lack of communication with your stepfather, we wonder what kind of relationship you had with him before your mother died? How well did you get along during those thirty years of their marriage? Were there tensions between you? What were the best times the three of you had together? These experiences that the two of you shared will influence any attempt to resolve the matter through negotiation.

We suggest that you start by having a conversation with him. What memories does each of you have about your relationship and those times with your mother? Past difficulties between you may or may not come up. A re-establishment of communication may lead to positive outcome. At the end of your time together, ask your stepfather if he would consider another conversation about some of your mother's things. By separating the conversations you will have a better chance of retaining the positive connection from the first meeting. Consider writing to him about your requests before you get together, so he has a chance to think about what would work for him.

In the second discussion, share the importance of the paintings from your grandfather and the other items you'd like to pass to your sons. Because you probably have few legal options, your stepfather may be more open to these sentimental wishes rather a demand that he perceives to be a financial request.