My son recently passed away, 1&1/2 years before his death he remarried, he was in an advanced cancer state, and she knowingly married him. While home, under Hospice supervision, the wife had my son sign a TOD affidavit one day before he passed, bringing a lawyer and notary into his home. He was not of sound mind as she was giving him heavy pain medications every 15 minutes to half-hour when he signed. This was witnessed by 3 of his blood relatives. Now she will not let his minor children or family have any of my son's possessions, the children's possessions, or family heirlooms in the house, as she states that all the property and contents are now hers. Is this true and if not what recourse do we have? Thank you

  • 6
    You should talk to a lawyer ASAP. Asking randos on the internet is not going to be of help no matter what we say here.
    – littleadv
    Commented Jan 25 at 19:51
  • Spoke with 2 att that say the judge always sides with the spouse so it would be a waste of time
    – Donna D.
    Commented Jan 26 at 18:10
  • Not a lawyer, but from what I can find for Ohio, TOD would apply to the house and land but not his personal effects. codes.ohio.gov/ohio-revised-code/…
    – mkennedy
    Commented Jan 27 at 0:53
  • Moved my comments into an answer. Which I don't expect will be appreciated, but it's the best advice I can offer
    – keshlam
    Commented Jan 30 at 16:12

2 Answers 2


If she really got your son to sign the documents while he was doped up on drugs and not in his right mind, and you have witnesses to this, I would think you would have a case for fraud.

But frankly, if you've already talked to two lawyers (as you say in the comments) and they've both said you don't have a case, I don't know what you think someone on here is going to say to help you. Sure, someone could say, "Both lawyers are wrong. Take her to court and you'll win." But why would you believe a random person on the internet who knows only what you said in your one paragraph summary, over a lawyer who presumably knows the laws of your state and knows a lot more about the facts of the case than we do?

I get it that you think a great injustic is being done and you should have some legal recourse. If one lawyer said no you don't, well, maybe he doesn't know what he's talking about. But two lawyers both said you don't have a case? Odds are that you don't have a case. They are unlikely to have any reason to lie to you. If they said you had a case, you would be paying them thousands of dollars to pursue it. If they turn down the case, the most likely reason is because they honestly think you have no serious chance of winning. May be time to just bite your lip and accept defeat.


If you have already spoken to lawyers, what better answer do you think us amateurs could give you? Spouse is usually first in line anyway unless there is a very clear statement otherwise, and is presumed to then have responsibility for the minor children.

Stop growling at a grieving widow even if you are a grieving parent. Don't make accusations, especially if you weren't there and are relying on hearsay and assumptions. Back off, let everyone recover, then calmly discuss. Remember that she would be the assumed inheritor if there was no will at all, that you have no idea what the previous will said, and that his signature was witnessed by people who will assert he did know what he was signing, whether it's what you wanted/expected him to do or not.

Start with the absolute essential, that being his minor children. Odds are that if you stop raising a ruckus you can reach consensus on that pretty easily; she probably cares about that too and is only taking a strong defensive position because you are backing her into a corner. Seriously, I doubt she has any interest whatsoever in keeping the kids' toys and clothing and such away from them and just wants to be allowed to deal with that without meddling by others.

Once that is agreed upon, you have some common ground to build on. Now focus on the things that have major emotional significance to the family. Try to avoid pointing at things you think may have significant value; that brings your motives into doubt. She will probably be willing to part with many of the heirlooms that go back a few generations, recognizing that they mean more to the family than they do to her. However it's legitimate for her to want to hold onto things that remind her of him, even if they also remind you of great-aunt Sophie. You may be best off asking if she'd put into her own will that they be passed to the children so they stay in the family; that's what heirlooms normally do, as long as they're still surviving and the next generation is still interested. She might also agree that if she wants to get rid of them before then she'd give the family first opportunity to ask for them; that too is appropriate for heirlooms. What you can't do is demand them back, unless you have written evidence that they were on loan to your son rather than his having been given them. Heirlooms or not, once they were his they were his, not the family's.

I know this is blunt, and it isn't what people want to hear. But it's what stands a chance of achieving something at least resembling the stated goals. The lawyers say there's no case. Cooperation and compromise is the only option with a viable path forward.

NOTE: It sounds like there is an assumption that the gal wouldn't have wed the son if she wasn't a gold-digger. First, the guy did marry her so obviously he didn't think so. Second, folks do sometimes wed terminally ill friends so they have the authority to help manage their final days. Third, in fact if she has eased his final years she has earned respect, whether you like her or not. Fourth, you don't have to like someone to work with them, you just have to be willing to prioritize the latter over the former. Finally, think about the stress the argument puts on those minor kids; be kind to them and don't turn this into an ugly-divorce-style battle.


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