What to do if a deceased spouse with valid Will has private-owned family inheritances in her name alone?

In the Will, the deceased wife bequeathed all her inherited properties to her mother. Her surviving husband had reached financial agreement in the impending divorce when his wife died. He is contesting the Will in probate court for his wife’s inherited properties so that they be given to him, plus all jointly-owned properties he was bequeathed in the Will. I am executrix of the estate and need advice on how to protect the deceased’s long-time inheritances.

Asked on August 12, 2013 under Estate Planning, West Virginia


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss and for the problems that have resulted.  I have to say that you need to hire an attorney for the estate as soon as you can.  This is not the forum to help you here.  This matter is way too complicated.  There are so many questions that need to be answered like the status of the properties and if the agreement will be held to be valid as a contract and thus upheld by the court.  Most states will not grant the divorce to the other party when one dies during the process.  Some states do retain jurisdiction over the marital property and will divide it even after the death. But some states lose the right to decide and it goes to the Probate Court.   Inheritance in general is not marital property for division but again that is subject to exception.  Get a really good lawyer.  Good luck.

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