What am I entitled to if my father died without a will? 12 Answers as of July 08, 2013

My father passed away 9 years ago, without leaving a will. My stepmother is now trying to sell his property from the business he owned. Are my sister and I entitled to any of the money when it sells?

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The McDonnell Law Firm, PLLC
The McDonnell Law Firm, PLLC | Patrick J. McDonnell
If your dad was married and dies intestate (without a will) everything, by law, goes to the spouse. If he wasn't married, his estate would be equally divided among issue (children). The list goes on according to the Table of Consanguinity.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 10/21/2011
Coulter's Law
Coulter's Law | Coulter K. Richardson
You automatically get part of a decedent's estate if they died without a will. Look up "intestate succession" in your state. Every state has laws on intestate succession, which means dying without a will. Most states will give the children 50% and the surviving spouse 50%. It varies.
Answer Applies to: New Jersey
Replied: 10/20/2011
Asset Protection and Elder Law Center
Asset Protection and Elder Law Center | Shadi Alai-Shaffer
Yes, you are entitled to a % of his estate as his children. You will want to seek legal counsel since your dad past 9 years ago to determine what rights if any you have at this time.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/20/2011
Ashman Law Office
Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
Why didn't you hire a lawyer 9 years ago. Odds are you sat on your rights and lost them. But see a lawyer to be sure.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 10/20/2011
THE HUBBARD LAW FIRM, P.C. | Donald B. Lawrence, Jr.
You have not provided enough information to be able to give you an answer. There are forms of ownership, particularly between husband and wife, that do not require probate or a will to pass title to a spouse. A will, when authenticated, can be admitted to probate but a probate can also be initiated to deal with property titled solely in the name of the decedent even if there is no will. If there is property titled solely in the name of the decedent, children and the spouse of a decedent would share the estate proceeds if there was no will unless the property was less than the statutory share available to the spouse. If your stepmother does not have good title, she may not be able to sell because a buyer will want to know that the seller owns the property and can convey title. So the ultimate answer to your question based on the limited information provided is: "It depends."
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 10/20/2011
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
    It depends on the kind of property and how it is held.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 10/20/2011
    Harville-Stein Law Offices, LLC
    Harville-Stein Law Offices, LLC | Dean D. Stein
    Generally, if a person dieswithout a Will, and the surviving spouse is not the mother of one or more of his children, then the surviving spouse and children split it 50/50. However, keep in mind some assets may pass outsideof the probate process, such as accounts with beneficiarydesignations, joint ownership and/or payable on death. In addition, depending on how his business was set up, itcould be that his wife has an ownership interest in the business that is greater or smaller than the 50% she owns if no other provisions were made. If enough money is involved, you really need an attorney to assist you and your siblings with this matter.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 10/19/2011
    Bullivant Houser Bailey PC
    Bullivant Houser Bailey PC | Darin Christensen
    It depends on how his property was owned. To the extent property was owned with his spouse (or anyone else) with rights of survivorship, that person ended up as the owner. Similarly, if property (mostly insurance, bank, and retirement accounts) had a beneficiary designation, the beneficiary is the owner. If neither of the foregoing applies, the assets should have passed through probate to your step mother and divided among all of your father's children.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 10/19/2011
    Law Office of J. Brian Thomas
    Law Office of J. Brian Thomas | J. Brian Thomas
    Nine years is an awful long time to wait before posing the question. Notwithstanding the significant time that has passed, intestate estates in Texas are divided up depending on some very basic family facts. In your situation, it sounds like you and your sister are not also children of your stepmother. Assuming that your father had no other children, that means that the property should be divided as follows. You and your sister equally split 2/3 of your father's separate personal property and 2/3 of your father's separate real property (subject to your stepmother's life estate in that real property). As for the community property, your father's interest passes to you and your sister equally, while your stepmother retains her interest for herself.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 10/19/2011
    The Schreiber Law Firm
    The Schreiber Law Firm | Jeffrey D. Schreiber
    Probably not. If he died without a will, then the intestacy laws of the state where he lived will control what happens to his property. In most states, if there is a spouse, it all goes to her. If he wanted something different, then he could have done that with a will.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/19/2011
    James Oberholtzer, Attorney at Law
    James Oberholtzer, Attorney at Law | James Oberholtzer
    The answer to your question depends on the all of the facts of your specific situation. No attorney can give you specific advice to your situation without knowing the entire situation. I can comment generally based on the information that you provided in your question. However, you should understand that the information contained in your question does not contain essential information needed to provide you with legal advice. This message is not intended to be legal advice for you and you should not consider that we have formed an attorney/client relationship. I am assuming that you are in Oregon and that Oregon law applies. If your father died without a Will, his probate property would have passed by intestacy (which you share in) and his non-probate property would pass by his Trust or joint tenancy contracts (which you may not). Nine years is pretty late to start questioning this. Is there a reason you waited so long? It is not necessarily too late; but, I recommend that you act now and find out what happened. If you continue to wait, your rights may be barred forever.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 10/19/2011
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
    It depends on a number of things. How was the business owned and by whom? Did he leave a Will setting forth who was to receive the business? What the business separate property or was it community property? These issue need to be examined to respond to your inquiry. You should speak with an attorney who can review the facts of your case with you.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 7/8/2013
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