Mom died and my stepdad won’t give me her stuff. What can I do?


Q. My mom passed away two years ago. She and my stepdad divorced but she had half of her stuff at his house. I’m her only daughter and he says I cannot have one thing of my mother’s. Can he keep it from me?
— Heir

A. This isn’t a simple answer because so much will depend on the specifics.

We’d want to know what “stuff” is at the house and why your mom did not remove the items from the house.

“The ex-husband may take the position that Mom abandoned the stuff or told him to keep the stuff,” said Shirley Whitenack, an estate planning attorney with Schenck, Price, Smith & King in Florham Park. “The executor or administrator of Mom’s estate may have a right to obtain those items.”

Given the possible complexities here, you should consult with an attorney who can review your situation to determine the chances of recovering the items, she said.

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This story was originally published on March 11, 2021. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.

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