What happens if my dad died unexpectedly and he and my mom were still married but haven’t been together for 6 years?

They were not legally separated. My brother and I know that my dad would not want my mom to have anything because he told us. She is mentally unstable, drinks alot, and is not working much right now. What will happen with his estate?

Asked on April 6, 2014 under Estate Planning, North Carolina


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Sorry to hear about your father.

If he left a Will, the provisions of the Will are controlling.

If he did not leave a Will, the rules of intestate succession determine inheritance.  Intestate means dying without a Will.

Under intestate succession, the surviving spouse would inherit your father's entire estate.  If your parents were separated with no intent to reunite, then there isn't any surviving spouse and the estate will be divided equally among the children.  If there is a deceased child, who had children (your father's grandchildren), they will inherit the share their deceased parent would have inherited had that parent survived.

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