What to do if my dad passed away 1 1/2 years ago and my stepmom will not let us recieve any personal items such as pictures, etc?

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What to do if my dad passed away 1 1/2 years ago and my stepmom will not let us recieve any personal items such as pictures, etc?

We were also told by our stepmom that he left her with great debt with medical expenses. However our dad made over $200,000 a year. Is there any way we (siblings) can get access to what his estate was really worth at the time of his death, and medical information. On a side note the stepmom has remarried 6 months after the death and has isolated from us. I think we are just wanting closure knowing our dad didn’t leave this kind of debt.

Asked on March 17, 2013 under Estate Planning, Oklahoma

Answers:

Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I am sorry you are going through this difficult experience.  Unfortunately, it is very common and I have helped children in Florida obtain information from an uncooperative stepmother.

I do not know the Probate procedures and law in Oklahoma.  You can check with the probate court in the county where your father died to see if your stepmother opened an estate there.  If she did, you can view most of the papers filed in the estate as a public record.  If she did not open an estate, you can be assured - as a practical matter - that your father either left little debt or had plenty of assets to pay it.  A probate estate is the usual means of dealing with debt because it cuts off the creditors' claims with certainty.

I don't know how long your father and stepmother were married, but it is likely that they owned everything, or almost everything, in joint names.  If so, everything passed to your stepmother automatically upon your father's passing.  In that case, no estate would be required.

If you are still concerned about your father's assets and debt, you can consult a private investigator to see if he or she can find information for you.  Private Investigators (especially those who specialize in asset checks) can usually find a great deal of information.

Good luck.


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