What to do if my dad died last year and his girlfriend, with whom he lived with for 9 years, has everything of his?

She won’t give my brother and I any of it and is playing it off as, “I’m still finding things around the house to give you.” She’s been saying this since the day that he died but I haven’t received a single thing of his. I am 18 and the oldest child, since he died, does everything go to me automatically since I am of age or does it go to a court to be distributed?

Asked on April 28, 2014 under Estate Planning, New Mexico

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

A girlfriend has *no*  legal rights to his belongings, except and only if he willed items, money, property, etc. to her. Otherwise, she is only entitled to those things which she owns (e.g. her clothing and jewlery; and appliances or electronics she brought with her or paid for--though if she only paid for part of an item and your father paid for the rest, she's only entitled to part of the value of the item), while everything else will go either to the persons your father willed it to, or to his immediate family under the rules of intestate succession, if there is no will.

The court has to oversee the distribution. If there was a will, it will go through probate; if there is no will, then the court will appoint an administrator who, under the court rules, will pay the estate's debts and distribute its assets. From what you right, if you think there is any appreciable value in the estate, you should consult with a trusts and estates attorney about making sure that you and your brother get what is coming to you.


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