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


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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.