Does my girlfriend need her dad's permission to receive property left to her in her grandfather's will?

1 answer | Last updated: Nov 27, 2016
Xcrn779 asked...

My girfriend's grandfather died and he left everything to her and her dad, but in order for her to receive anything, both she and her dad must both agree on it. I was wondering if there's any way she can access what was left to her without her father's consent?

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

Your girlfriend's grandfather might have been trying to be crafty from the grave by imposing this requirement of cooperation. But how and whether that will work depends on the exact wording of the will.

If the will simply left the entire estate to your girlfriend AND her father, the law will imply that the two of them should divide the property equally.

But if the document specifically notes that father and daughter must agree before either of them is entitled to take a penny, it is possible that the will could be challenged for making the gifts conditional, which is generally frowned upon under the law. However, contesting the will would probably not be a wise move for your girlfriend to make, since if a court declared the will or part of it invalid, she would likely risk being cut out of it altogether.

Her best approach is likely the one that seems the most sensible, but may be most difficult to take: Approach the situation with an open spirit and work hard on coming to an agreement with her father. If their relationship is strained or estranged, it could present an opportunity for healing.

One other thing: If your girlfriend is still a minor, state law may require that an adult manage the property for her until she reaches a specific age.