“I have no fault”: My stepdad will leave me his $1 million house. How do I protect my inheritance from his two biological children?

Dear Quentin,

My mother passed away four years ago and my stepfather is now in poor health. Although he has two biological children, he has been estranged from them for decades. Most of his wealth was bequeathed by naming beneficiaries or survivors. His will is to leave his two blood children a mineral trust and leave me his house valued at approximately $1 million.

This man has been my father for almost 40 years. It’s not my fault to accept the house that he and my mother built to keep in the family. I think he has a firm legal basis on how he bequeaths his estate. Does it make sense to leave the house to me by will, or is there a better option that avoids excessive taxes and government interference?

He is a resident of Wyoming and I am a resident of Texas.

Many Thanks.

The stepdaughter

dear stepdaughter,

The best thing about your letter is that you’re all on the same page, and that doesn’t happen too often in these parts. Your top priority is to ensure your inheritance is safe and not prone to being contested by your step-siblings. Avoiding the probate process does several things: it provides an easier, more timely, and less expensive transfer of assets, and it bypasses the probate court, which would involve appraising the home and countless paperwork. Probate is a public process — something your step-siblings would theoretically have access to.

What matters most to you, given your family situation, “If a will is contested, it is possible for the court to find that it is not valid and therefore not eligible for parole,” says Hoffman & Hoffman, a law firm with offices in South Florida and Michigan. “Although other means of transferring assets after death – such as

In Wyoming, a death certificate would be the most obvious solution. Put simply, upon the death of your stepfather, the title deed would automatically pass to you. A death certificate would also be cheaper than setting up a trust, which can be expensive and complicated, and would replace any previous lost and found wills your parents had. But it won’t help parents “spend” their wealth on Medicaid eligibility. Read more about the types of home ownership related to a death certificate here.

There is no state inheritance tax in either Texas or Wyoming, and there are additional tax benefits in the event of death. It would provide you with a “step-up basis” for capital gains taxes. This means the profit from each sale would be calculated as the selling price minus the home’s recent appraised/market price – rather than the original purchase price. Of course, consult a trust and estate attorney before making any decision. In closing, I am glad you spent 40 years with your stepfather and I wish you many more from the bottom of my heart.

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https://www.marketwatch.com/story/i-have-no-guilt-my-stepfather-will-leave-me-his-1-million-home-how-do-i-protect-my-inheritance-from-his-two-biological-children-11664974864?rss=1&siteid=rss “I have no fault”: My stepdad will leave me his $1 million house. How do I protect my inheritance from his two biological children?

Brian Lowry

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