If my mother and stepfather have passed away, what is mine?
Question Details: My mother passed away a few years ago. As my stepfather was in bad health, my niece agreed to stay with him for rent and a small salary; he has since passed away. My siblings and I agreed to sell the house they owned and split whatever money they had and the value of the house between us. However, that has all changed. Now my oldest sister is trying to keep the house and is, I feel, being less then honest about the money that was left and the value of the house. What rights do I have?
Normally step-children have no right to inherit property from their step-parent. Absent a Will, the step-parent's kin historically would inherit. Missouri law would apply as that's where the house is.
In order to be able to answer your question it would be necessry to know such things as how title to the house had been held held during your mother's lifetime -- in your mother's name alone -- in which case her Will and/or the Missouri laws on intestate distribution would partially control, OR in joint tenancy -- in which case he inherited it 100% on your mother's death, which is the same as if it was in his name alone all the while, or whether the house was in a trust, in which case provisions of the trust control.
Let's assume title was held by your step-father at his death. What then controls is whether your step-father had a valid Will, and if so, who the heirs named in that Will are.
If he did not have a Will the laws of Intestate succession of Missouri apply -- Missouri code Section 474.010 which provides the deceased's heirs at law inherit, and unless you fall within this provision you may be out of luck: If there is no surviving spouse or kindred of the decedent entitled to inherit, the whole shall go to the kindred of the predeceased spouse who, at the time of the spouse's death, was married to the decedent, in like course as if such predeceased spouse had survived the decedent and then died entitled to the property,
As I believe Missouri has an equitable adoption statute, other issues may include how old you were when your mother married your step-father and whether an equitable adoption exists.