Stepchild seeks a share of estate
By Bruce Williams
DEAR BRUCE: 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
DEAR READER: 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 loss of faculty, which you have not implied. It’s unlikely this is the case.
DEAR BRUCE: I would like to know how to find a company to increase my term life insurance by another $100,000. There are so many companies out there; how do I compare them and not get taken? I don’t know where to look and find the best deal. — Reader, via email
DEAR READER: There are quite a few life insurance brokers that will take into account your situation (age, income, etc.) and guarantee that they find you the lowest prices for term insurance. You can find these brokers online, and they also advertise in newspapers and on TV.
There are well over 1,000 companies writing term insurance, and the premiums can vary like crazy from one to the other. There is money to be saved; just take the time to shop wisely.
(Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Smart Money, P.O. 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.)