If a man dies without a will, who will inherit his estate ? 13 Answers as of February 20, 2012

My father just passed and I do not know if he had a will. Who will inherit his estate his new wife or his children? He just inherited some from his parents passing away. Do I need to hire a lawyer?

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Martinson & Beason, PC
Martinson & Beason, PC | Douglas C Martinson II
If he has a valid, legal will, the assets will pass to whoever is named in the will. Any assets that are joint tenants or have a beneficiary would pass to the beneficiary or the joint person and would not be subject to the will. If he died without a will, his new does have some rights since she is a spouse. She could have waived or given up those rights if she signed a pre-nuptial agreement. If there was no pre-nuptial agreement, the wife would be entitled to the first $15,500 (if she applies to the Probate Court to receive some exemptions in that amount), the funeral expenses would be paid, costs of administration (including an Administrator's commission of 5%, attorneys fees, clean up, utilities, etc), then any creditors would be paid. After all those expenses are paid, the remainder would be split 50% to the wife and 50% divided among all the children. If there are any children who died leaving grandchildren of the decedent, then those grandchildren would divide their deceased parent's share.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 10/25/2011
Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
If he leaves children who are not children of his wife, then wife gets half and children will split half. Things subject to beneficiary designations (insurance, retirement plans) pass according to the designation; joint property with right of survivorship (joint bank accounts, some real property) will pass to the surviving owner.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 10/25/2011
The McDonnell Law Firm, PLLC
The McDonnell Law Firm, PLLC | Patrick J. McDonnell
It's always better to hire a lawyer, but if your father died intestate (without a will) his estate is distributed by law according to the Table of Consanguinity: If he is married, his spouse takes ALL; If not, equally distributed to his children; If no children, to his parents; If no parents, equally distributed to his brothers and sisters; and so on, and so on, until a point where it stops and his estate escheats to the state. I would look hard for a will, if one exists.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 10/24/2011
The Law Office of David L. Leon
The Law Office of David L. Leon | David L. Leon
The spouse would revive a share and the children would receive a share. Yes, you need a lawyer.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 10/21/2011
THE HUBBARD LAW FIRM, P.C. | Donald B. Lawrence, Jr.
If a man dies without a will leaving a wife and children, Michigan statute provides that the wife and children will inherit his estate (consisting of property titled in the decedent's name alone) after payment of debts and expenses. This arrangement could be altered if there was a prenuptial agreement between the father and the new wife. The exact share depends on the amount and the nature of the assets and to some extent the choices made by the wife. The disposition of the inheritance from his parents could depend on whether it was received by him while he was alive and what the terms of his parents will or trust were. You will want to consult with an attorney about what your rights are after a full briefing or investigation to discover the relevant facts that will allow a more precise answer to your question.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 10/21/2011
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
    If your father died without a Will his community property would pass to your step mom and the separate property would be distributed to your dad's children and your stepmom. The percentages are a function of how many children he had. We provide a free hour consultation on Nevada probate matters. You will meet with an attorney who will answer questions, assess your situation and provide you with options to consider. If you are interested in making an appointment with one of our attorneys, please contact Michelle at 702 873 9500. She will need to gather some initial data from you and run a conflicts check before an appointment may be set.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 10/21/2011
    Law Office of Larry Webb
    Law Office of Larry Webb | Larry Webb
    You should talk to an attorney. When a person dies without a Will his property passes according to law. His wife and children are entitled to a share. The share is determined by the number of children surviving the decedent.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/21/2011
    Broad Law Firm, LLC
    Broad Law Firm, LLC | Donald K. Broad
    If your father died without a will, his property generally will pass 50% to his wife and 50% divided equally to his surviving children. However, some property can pass outside of an estate. For instance, if his home and/or bank accounts are titled jointly with his wife, title to those assets will pass to her 100%. In addition, often life insurance proceeds and retirement accounts have named beneficiaries and those designations will control who receives that property or benefits.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 2/20/2012
    Bullivant Houser Bailey PC
    Bullivant Houser Bailey PC | Darin Christensen
    In Oregon, if he had no will and has at least one child who is not also a child of his wife, his wife receives half of his probate assets and his descendants divide the other half. Note: Jointly owned assets and accounts with pay on death designations pass to the co-owner or beneficiary regardless of the foregoing. It would be a good idea to hire a lawyer unless the new wife is relatively transparent about probate and your father's assets.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 10/21/2011
    Law Office of J. Brian Thomas
    Law Office of J. Brian Thomas | J. Brian Thomas
    You should certainly consider hiring an attorney. Your father's estate, in Texas, is divided among his wife and his children from prior to his marriage. How his estate is divided depends entirely on whether the property is personal or real in nature, as well as whether the property is community or separate in character. Yours is a case where there are rights all across the board, from your father's children to his widow. Consulting and retaining an attorney to learn more about your rights in the matter would be a great idea.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 10/21/2011
    Law Offices of Brian Chew
    Law Offices of Brian Chew | Brian Chew
    If there is no will, the wife inherits all of community property and a portion of his separate property (ie inheritance from parents). This should all be sorted out in probate.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/21/2011
    Harville-Stein Law Offices, LLC
    Harville-Stein Law Offices, LLC | Dean D. Stein
    If your father had no Will, the surviving spouse and children will share 50/50, when the children are not all his and hers. However, some property like a home or land can pass differently depending on how it is titled. Same for bank accounts. You should consult an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 10/21/2011
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