My dad passed away recently, do my siblings and I children have rights to his personal stuff?

He had a girlfriend whom he paid all the bills for and left a life insurance policy to her for $50,000. He signed a power of attorney to her and she repeatedly removed money from his accounts and purchased things for her adult children. There was no Will and she also removed all his belonging before and after his death. She put them in yard sales and kept the valuables of my dad’s and family collections that dated back into the 1880’s. He had other furnishings that have not been returned from the household that he paid for before the power of attorney was signed.

Asked on October 14, 2015 under Estate Planning, Mississippi

Answers:

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Sorry to hear about your dad.
The girlfriend's power of attorney ended upon your dad's death.  Therefore, anything she removed from the estate after his death per the power of attorney should be returned to the estate.  She can be sued and a constructive trust would be the appropriate remedy.  A constructive trust requires the girlfriend to return items or their value or proceeds if the items have been sold or disposed of to the estate.
Since your dad died intestate without a Will, the rules of intestate succession determine inheritance.  Under intestate succession, the surviving spouse inherits the entire estate.  If there had not been a surviving spouse, the estate would have been divided equally among the children.  If there are any deceased children who had children your dad's grandchildren, those grandchildren would have inherited the share their deceased parent would have inherited had the deceased parent survived.
Again, since there is a survivng spouse, she inherits your dad's entire estate.  The children inherit nothing.


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