Does my brother’s estranged wife have the legal right to take belongings from the home while the estate is in probate?

My brother recently committed suicide, leaving behind three children, the oldest of which was named executor of his Will. It was drafted online and might not be valid. His estranged wife is currently packing up his belongings to ship to her home out of state. Her name is on the title of the home, which she is on the verge of losing. Does she have the legal right to take belongings from the home while the estate is in probate?

Asked on March 18, 2012 under Estate Planning, Virginia


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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  This must be a very difficult time I am sure.  If they were not divorced or had not entered in to a legal separation then she is still his wife and yes, she probably has the right to do what she is doing. Please, please seek legal help here and figure out what is going on with the Will.  He can not exclude her if she is hi legal wife. In most states she can "elect" against the Will.  Good luck. 

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