What happens if a remarried man dies without a Will but a child from a previous marriage?

My father died in CA in 2004. He was remarried with 3 kids. When he passed away, I was never contacted by anyone about a Will, probate, etc. Therefore I do not know whether my father died without a Will or not. Before he died he told me that he would help out with a car, computer training, etc. I went to the County Recorders Office and they said there is no record of a Will. Does his wife get everything if there was mo Will?

Asked on July 18, 2010 under Estate Planning, California


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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am sorry for your loss.  If your Father dies without a Will then he dies intestate and the Intestacy statutes in the state of California would establish how his estate would be distributed to hi beneficiaries. You as a child would share in his estate.  But remember: that would be that portion of his estate that did not pass to his Wife by operation of law: i.e., jointly held.  If the house was jointly held then it passed to her on his death.  Same with jointly held bank accounts.  So there may not have been any estate to probate that was his alone. You can double check in the probate court to see if an estate was filed.  It is sometimes called an "administration."   Check in the probate court for the county in which he resided at the time of his death.  If he did not memorialize his promises in a Will then there is no way to keep him to them now.  Good luck.

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