The Moneyologist: My adoptive parents ostracized me because I’m gay — do I have a claim on their estate? -

The Moneyologist: My adoptive parents ostracized me because I’m gay — do I have a claim on their estate?

Credit: marketwatch.com

  • Aug 12 2017 22:50About: 5 months ago
  • 9 views

Dear Moneyologist,

My father died in 2014 and my mother died in January of this year. I was adopted, and my non-biological sister is my only other remaining family member. A second cousin informed me of my mother’s deaths My father did not include me in the will, but so far that’s hearsay. I did call an attorney in Indiana where my family is from, he checked about any deeds for me, and apparently there was no will. Also, what about life insurance policies? Who gets that? My main concern is who acquired all of my mother and father’s personal effects, cars, jewelry, etc. Am I able to receive any of these items?

Read also: This is one person you should never unfriend on Facebook...

The main conflict in my family was the fact I’m gay. My mother and father believed it was a “choice,” which explains why I was not left anything. Can I obtain a copy of the will? I asked my father about 10 years ago if I was in the will and he said yes. I would like to know my rights, in particular, how to obtain any of my parents personal effects, as I believe my estranged sister has helped herself. I attempted to contact her in December of 2015, but she never returned my call, so I cannot speak to her at all regarding this matter.

Can I sue? What are my options?

Michael in California

Dear Michael,

I’m sorry your parents ostracized you from your family. That must have taken a toll on you. Acceptance and love is about the one thing we all expect from our parents and, given that your parents chose you for adoption, it’s even sadder. There are plenty of parents out there who would have loved to adopt a baby and given him the love and respect he deserved. That said, you are absolutely a legal heir as an adopted child. And you have the same right to your parents’ belongings as your sister. To close this chapter in your life and to make a stand, I suggest you pursue it.

Hire a lawyer in Indiana and file a petition with the county court to nominate yourself as executor, if a will was filed. You only need to know the county where your parents resided and you can likely find out whether a will was filed with one phone call. If there was no will and your mother died “intestate,” you are likely entitled to half your parents’ estate. If there was a will and you were not mentioned at all, you could also challenge that will on the basis that your omission was an oversight. “You still have a bite of the apple,” says Patricia Payne, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer.

Don’t miss: Should I invite my father to my gay wedding?

Even if you are mentioned in the will, you can still challenge it. You have been quiet for many years and your sister will undoubtedly be shocked to hear from you. It would cost you no more than a few hundred dollars to send that letter and, in such cases, many lawyers would do this on a contingency or even pro bono basis, especially if there’s a valuable asset like a family home at stake. It can be prohibitively expensive to defend such a case, Payne said. Depending on the size of the estate — especially in cases where a family member is estranged — lawyers do advise their clients to settle.

Also see: My father didn’t love me He only left me $10,000

If your sister’s name was not on the deed of the house, the property must go through probate and (without a will saying otherwise) you are entitled to half. Sometimes, parents erroneously list their children as tenants in common on the deeds of their home rather than joint tenants with survivorship rights. In the former case, you again could instruct your lawyer to name you as a rightful heir to 50% of the property. Tenancy in common has no survivorship rights if none are specified in a will.

Most people name beneficiaries on their life insurance policies. In the event there is no named beneficiary, the insurance company would pay the estate and, in that case, you would likely be entitled to half, assuming there is no will. Of course, it’s hard to track down valuables once they have been spirited away by a relative. But if you did successfully make a claim on the estate, your sister would have to account for assets that were taken from your mother’s home. Sometimes, it’s just as important to have your voice heard, regardless of the outcome.

Good luck on finally closing this chapter on your life.

Do you have questions about inheritance, tipping, weddings, family feuds, friends or any tricky issues relating to manners and money? Send them to MarketWatch’s Moneyologist and please include the state where you live (no full names will be used).

Would you like to sign up to an email alert when a new Moneyologist column has been published? If so, click on this link.

Hello there, MarketWatchers. Check out the Moneyologist private Facebook group, where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas: inheritance, wills, divorce, tipping, gifting. I often talk to lawyers, accountants, financial advisers and other experts, in addition to offering my own thoughts. I receive more letters than I could ever answer, so I’ll be bringing all of that guidance — including some you might not see in these columns — to this group. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyologist columns.



Follow Us on Twitter

This man’s sister refuses return calls after their death mother.

Related stories with The Moneyologist: My adoptive parents ostracized me because I’m gay — do I have a claim on their estate?

How I Met Your Mother spinoff one step closer -World News
How I Met Your Mother spinoff one step closer 5 months ago
A spinoff of the popular US television show How I Met Your Mother has got a new writer and is one step closer to being given the go-ahead.
New Balance Launches the 247 in an
New Balance Launches the 247 in an "Infrared" Colorway 5 months ago
New Balance continues to have a strong summer season with the release of a new "Infrared" colorway of its 247 model. Using the brand's REVlite technology for the sole, this New Balance 247 colorway sees mesh and neoprene materials used for the upper. Hits
Death Cafe serves up insights into life's end -World News
Death Cafe serves up insights into life's end 5 months ago
In early July, seven men and women gathered over coffee and snacks at a Buddhist temple in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward to discuss death. Over two hours, the talk…
Live with Gratitude then our Life will be Full of Wonders. -World News
Live with Gratitude then our Life will be Full of Wonders. 5 months ago
Live with Gratitude then our Life will be Full of Wonders   If we are proud of ourselves then it will give us a good feeling of satisfaction and self-esteem. The moment when we have done somethin
32nd anniversary of JAL jumbo jet crash observed -World News
32nd anniversary of JAL jumbo jet crash observed 5 months ago
Relatives of the 520 victims of the 1985 crash of a Japan Airlines jumbo jet on Saturday marked the 31st anniversary of the accident in Gunma Prefecture. In…
One million dance lovers gather for Tokushima's 'Awa' festival -World News
One million dance lovers gather for Tokushima's 'Awa' festival 5 months ago
Over a million performers and spectators will flock to a western Japanese city this weekend for one of the country's largest dance festivals, after organizers stepped up efforts…
GPS satellite launch postponed due to glitch -World News
GPS satellite launch postponed due to glitch 5 months ago
Japan on Saturday postponed the planned launch of an H-2A rocket tasked to put a geo-positioning satellite into orbit due to possible helium gas leakage, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries…
Those Who are Willing to Sweat will Always See the Splendid Results. -World News
Those Who are Willing to Sweat will Always See the Splendid Results. 5 months ago
Those Who are Willing to Sweat will Always See the Splendid Results   I was taught by my father that by sitting still, the bread will not just appeared on the table for us, and he was right, he worked
Blizzard Creates New, Official Test Server For WarCraft III -World News
Blizzard Creates New, Official Test Server For WarCraft III 5 months ago
WarCraft III turned 15 years old last month. As a belated birthday gift to one of its most famous games, Blizzard has launched a Public Test Realm (PTR) for the game, making changes to game balance and map alterations in a new test environment. The PTR t
Alabama football: Field goal kicking still a work in progress following first scrimmage -World News
Alabama football: Field goal kicking still a work in progress following first scrimmage 5 months ago
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Heading into to Alabama’s scrimmage, Nick Saban wanted to see improvement out of the Crimson Tide’s special teams units. Asked for his assessment following the workout Saturday, Saban wasn’t completely satisfied
WATCH: Tennessee’s Christian Coleman anchors silver-medal run in 400-meter relay -World News
WATCH: Tennessee’s Christian Coleman anchors silver-medal run in 400-meter relay 5 months ago
@__coleman runs anchor in 400M relay for USA, gets silver as Great Britain scores upset pic.twitter.com/tXuaJzA9A0 — Mike Griffith (@MikeGriffith32) August 12, 2017 Tennessee’s Christian Coleman was en route to holding off Usain Bolt on the anchor leg
South Carolina football: Gamecocks lose freshman safety for the season -World News
South Carolina football: Gamecocks lose freshman safety for the season 5 months ago
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp told reporters on Saturday afternoon that Jaylin Dickerson will miss the 2017 season. The freshman safety is scheduled to have shoulder surgery on Wednesday. “The nerve specialist fe