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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    6

    Default Stepchild as Executor - Legality & Position

    My father died just last week and as hard as it has been there has been nothing to stir more contoversy than the fact that my father left everything to my stepsister instead of his two biogical children, myself and another.

    The will was signed by two people in the stepchild's family and life. The will had not been notorized nor was it filed in any way.

    FIRST - Is the will valid?

    SECONDLY - If the will is NOT valid who would end up with his estate? I am assuming it would then go to me and my sister (who was living in the house at the time of his death with her children).

    THIRD - Being listed as an executor without any other names mentioned in will, does this basically give the impression my father INTENDED that me and my sister not receive anything? Or is the role of 'executor' assumed to be more of a position of the executor be more of a 'responsibility' than a 'reward'? Basically - does the executor have to give anything to us two bio-kids when we weren't even mentioned in the will. The only named mentioned was the stepsister as the executor.

    LASTLY - In the horrible and implausable event the stepsister seeks to either NOT share the estate or not share the estate 'fairly', what recourse would WE, the biological children, have if any? (NOTE: One of the bio-kids was an actual resident in the father's house and our father's mother, the previous owner of the house and it's affects, specifically listed us IN her will that didn't list ANY stepchildren - I mention these notes just in case they have any probative weight)
    Sorry to have included so many questions, I was unsure if it was more appropriate to list all in ONE topic or in seperate.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    758

    Default Re: Stepchild as Executor - Legality & Position

    Quote Quoting mediagod
    FIRST - Is the will valid?
    Possibly. There is no requirement that, for a will to be valid, that the testator leave money to his otherwise presumed heirs. In general terms, Ohio will confirm that the testator had capacity at the time the will was drafted, that the testator signed the will, and that there were two or more witnesses aged 18 or older. The will can be challenged on various grounds, including incapacity and undue influence.

    Quote Quoting mediagod
    SECONDLY - If the will is NOT valid who would end up with his estate? I am assuming it would then go to me and my sister (who was living in the house at the time of his death with her children).
    Under Ohio law, where there is no surviving spouse, the estate passes as follows:

    1. Decedent's children or their lineal descendants, per stirpes.
    2. Decedent's parent or parents equally.
    3. Decedent's brothers and sisters or their lineal descendants, per stirpes.
    4. One-half to the paternal grandparents of the decedent equally, or to the survivor of them, and one-half to the maternal grandparents of the decedent equally, or to the survivor of them.
    5. One-half to the lineal descendants of the deceased grandparents, per stirpes. If there are no such lineal descendants, then to the surviving grandparents or their lineal descendants, per stirpes. If there are no surviving grandparents or their lineal descendants, then generally to the next of kin of the decedent.
    6. Stepchildren or their lineal descendants, per stirpes.

    That list is applied in sequence. i.e., if there is no surviving spouse, then to the kids and their descendents. If there are no surviving kids/descendents of the kids, then to the parents. If there are no surviving parents, then to the siblings and their descendents. etc.

    Quote Quoting mediagod
    THIRD - Being listed as an executor without any other names mentioned in will, does this basically give the impression my father INTENDED that me and my sister not receive anything? Or is the role of 'executor' assumed to be more of a position of the executor be more of a 'responsibility' than a 'reward'? Basically - does the executor have to give anything to us two bio-kids when we weren't even mentioned in the will. The only named mentioned was the stepsister as the executor.
    It would be unusual to disinherit somebody and still designate that person as an executor.

    An heir may waive part or all of an inheritance. However, the executor has no power to rewrite the terms of the will.

    Quote Quoting mediagod
    LASTLY - In the horrible and implausable event the stepsister seeks to either NOT share the estate or not share the estate 'fairly', what recourse would WE, the biological children, have if any?
    You may contest the will.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    6

    Default Added Questions Posed

    First, thanks so much for such a quick response. I would like to be as straightforward as possible.

    I am 100% sure that my half-sister will do the 'right' thing and be sure that me and my sister receive all that we are due, not that there is much to begin with. But in this world, the biggest surprises can come from those closest to you. I just wondered with the fact of us being biological children if it would be, for lack of a better word, easy, to contest the will and remove her as executor if God forbid it is necessary since she is not biologically related to my father nor my paternal grandparents? Mitigating circumstances would show that we, my bio-sister and I were the ones who helped keep the house afloat, took care of our grandmother, the previuos owner of the house, etc. It just wouldn't seem right for someone else to get it all. (I know it's a general quesion which might be difficult to answer, please do your best).

    Secondly, I'm not sure you understood the latter part of my original question. It regards 'intent'. I wondered if my father by naming my a non-bio daughter from a previous marriage as 'executor' was his way of keeping me and my sister from receiving anything. Meaning, does the executor of a will have any obligation to share the inheritance with anyone?

    Third, if me and my sister were to contest basing our objections on a 'heritage' line of argument, would it hold salt? Or is the only way to remove the half-sister by proving Dad unsound or otherwise. Or is unsound mind just one of many potential arguments?

    Hope I'm not killing you with specifics. Much appreciated. The past week has been hell, so was life with Dad sometimes and it feels like this is his final punch in the belly to cut us out. It is my hope that he meant to name the half-sister, assuming she would take care of me and my sister. It would seem if this were his intent, he would have listed it.

    Do the best you can to answer.

    MediaGod

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    758

    Default Challenging a Will

    Claiming "heritage" is not a legitimate basis to challenge a will. A parent can disinherit a child or children. It is your being disinherited through exclusion from the will, not by the designation of an executor, that you would be prevented from inheriting.

    You have not yet described grounds upon which the will could be challenged. Typical contests allege such circumstances as fraud, mistake, undue influence, or incapacity.

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