Can adult stepchildren sue for part of an estate if no will was done? 7 Answers as of August 18, 2011

My mom and her husband bought a house when both had minor children. He is now very ill and has not prepared a will. Both worked throughout the marriage contributing to the mortgage.

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Burnham & Associates
Burnham & Associates | Stephanie K. Burnham
A lot will depend on how the title to the house is held. If the house is held as Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship there will be no claim available to the stepchildren, unless "Mom" passes before "StepDad". If the house is held as Tenants in Common (unusual but possible) then his half of the property would be subject to Probate. His children will be entitled to a share of his estate based on the laws of intestacy, but unless he has a large amount of assets, their interest will not overcome Mom's interest as the surviving spouse. To clear up any potential issues, your Stepfather should consider preparing a Last Will and Testament.
Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
Replied: 8/18/2011
Ashman Law Office
Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
No. Stepchildren, absent at will are not heirs.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 8/17/2011
The Coyle Law Office
The Coyle Law Office | T. Andrew Coyle
That's a difficult situation and may ultimately depend on how they took title to the residence when they bought the house. You should discuss this with a local probate attorney who can research these issues for you.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 8/17/2011
Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
Spouses usually, although not always, hold real property as "tenants by the entirety," which is a survivor ship estate. When one passes away, the other owns the property by operation of law.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 8/17/2011
Law Offices of John J. Ferry, Jr.
Law Offices of John J. Ferry, Jr. | John J. Ferry, Jr.
If he does not have a will, his estate will go to his wife. His children would not have a valid cause of action to challenge that.
Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
Replied: 8/17/2011
    The Schreiber Law Firm
    The Schreiber Law Firm | Jeffrey D. Schreiber
    I am assuming the mother is deceased and the only person who has any ability to make a will is the husband. If he has a will, whatever and to whoever he distributes his property is what controls, whether or not they are relatives. If he dies without a will, then the intestacy laws of the state where he lives/the property is located will state who takes the property. Some states will allow for step children, some do not, so you would have to know what the laws is. To avoid that, sign a will which will take the place of the intestacy laws.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/17/2011
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
    Anyone can sue any time. Thus, the answer is yes. The better question is if they would be successful.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 8/17/2011
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