Is property of parent automatically inherited by children when there is a Will and a new stepparent?

My father passed away 10 days ago. My mother passed away 6 years ago. My father remarried a year and 10 months ago. My parents drew up a Will 25 years ago naming my sister and myself as personal representatives. The Will states that the home is left to my sister and I. No other particular items are mentioned in the Will. What happens to my father’s vehicles, jewelry, guns, tools, etc.? Does dad’s new wife get it even though they were purchased before they were married? What about his pension? If he didn’t change the beneficiary to her after our mom died, does it go to my sister and I?

Asked on September 21, 2011 under Estate Planning, Washington


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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  I would seek help from an attorney in your area on this matter as soon as you possibly can.  Unless you Father had a pre- or post-nuptial agreement with his Wife as to the assets she has a right to inherit from his estate.  In this case it would be known as an "election against the Will."  Although it is my understanding that Washington State does not have a specific statute that deals with that issue directly, their statutes dealing with the right of a spouse to inherit basically do the same thing.  And being a community property state you run the risk of losing half. Washingtons State calls it the right to take against the Will. So unless it can be shown that there was a clear intent to exclude her from inheriting anything you may have a fight on your hands.  Get legal help.  Good luck.

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