Do adult children have any rights to their dead father’s belongings if he had no will?

My dad passed away a little over a month ago. His girlfriend of less than a year has stayed in his house and kept all of his belonging. He was fairly young and didn’t have a Will. Are me and my sister allowed to get his things? What about his property? She’s his girlfriend is acting like she plans on keeping everything. As a matter of fact. She gave my sister and I a tie and a shirt of his. Do we, as his adult children, have any right to his things?

Asked on June 25, 2012 under Estate Planning, Texas


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Unless their was a will, a girlfriend has no rights to the estate.  She would only have a right to the belongings in the house that were hers individually.  Texas has a probate statute which sets up default provisions for when a person passes away-- which includes their spouse and their children.  You and your sister would have  right to a division of his property.  You need to get in touch with a probate attorney that can give you an idea of the best course to take with your father's estate, especially since their is a house involved.  Many people try to get titles changed on their own and accidentally end up "clouding" titles.  A good probate attorney can help you with the process of getting title's arranged to avoid any issues in the event that ya'll decide to sell the house.  Filing for probate is like filing for any other lawsuit--- meaning there is a statute of limitations.  So the longer you wait to file, the harder it will be to probate the estate.  It will also make it harder to discern which property is the girlfriends and which property was your fathers.  If you are interested in anything in his estate, contact a probate attorney now.  If you are concerned that she is disposing of assets, you may also be able to get an order which prohibits her from disposing of items which the estate is in probate.

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