Who has rights to estate assets if there is no Will?

My father-in-law passed away without a Will. He has a completely paid for house that was purchased by him and his first wife. They had 3 kids (now adults) and she lived there until she passed 18 years ago. He remarried 3 years later and his new wife moved into the house. He wanted her to have the house to live in until she either passed or had to go to assisted living, then he wanted the 3 kids to have it. Now the new wife wants his kids to sign a document giving her total control and relinquishing their rights to the house. They refused to do this. They said that she could live there, keep taxes, etc up and they wanted it back when she could no longer stay in it. She wants to give it to her kids (previous marriage). What are the laws on this. Do they need an attorney?

Asked on August 19, 2014 under Estate Planning, Kentucky


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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Yes they need an attorney. What you never said here was whose name is on the deed but I am assuming it is his and his first wife's (their Mother).  However, in Kentucky, a spouse inherits 1/2 of your intestate estate under the rules of dower and curtsy. So unfortunately she gets half and you three children inherit the other half as I see it.  Good luck.

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