Do all siblings have a right to a portion of our grandparents house and land?

My grandparents passed away in 1985 and 1986 without a will. My dad was their only child. Of course, my grandparents house and land was passed to dad. My dad passed away on Feb. 13, 2016. Dad had five children. Dad said he had a will, but my step-mother has not come forth with the will. If dad left my grandparents house to one child and not the other 4 children, do the other 4 children not have a right to any of the house or the land?

Asked on April 28, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

IF your father did have a properly or validly executed will, you can find the will (i.e. a will that never is found may as well not exist), and there are no legitimate challenges to it (e.g. it doesn't appear that your father was mentally incapable when he excecuted it; there's no reason to think someone defrauded or coerced him into signing; etc.) then yes--he can leave it to only one child. The law does not require a person to leave assets to all children: he can, by will, leave the assets to all, some, or none, as he chooses. He can also disinherit his spouse, even though if there were no will, she'd inherit.
The will must be produced to be probated: if it is produced, then any one might have inherited if there was no will (e.g. a spouse, other children) can challenge it in court. 

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