Question:  My father died recently.  He was married to a woman who is not my mother.  My father told me many times that I would inherit property from him, but to date I have not inherited anything.  His wife says he did not have a will or a trust and did not leave me anything.  I think he signed both documents.  How can I find out if my Dad had a will or trust and if he left me any property?

Answer:  Your question is one of the most common questions people ask me.  Unfortunately your loved one created a very big problem for you and your siblings.  The purpose of a will or a trust is to state who inherits property when a person dies.  If the heirs do not get a copy of the will or the trust then they may never get their inheritance.

In my experience more often than not the spouse at the time of death will not disclose to the children of the deceased that are not the spouse’s children whether or not:

  • the deceased had a will or a trust
  • the deceased left any property to the children.

If the surviving spouse will not voluntarily give the children of the deceased a copy of the will or the trust it is unlikely the children will ever get a copy of the document or any inheritance.

Important Lesson:  If you expect to inherit any property from your parent ask your parent to give you a copy of his or her signed will and trust, if any.  Review the document and if you find any problems, ask your parent about it.  If you are a parent who remarried or have a significant other give  your children who will inherit your property a copy of your signed will and trust.  Don’t create a problem for your loved ones by keeping them in the dark and trusting that your spouse or significant other will do the right thing.