If my father recently died and didn’t have a Will but he was married, what happens to his belongings including his house?

His wife is not my mother.

Asked on August 1, 2014 under Estate Planning, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Your  father's spouse (his wife) and his descendents (e.g children and grandchildren, if any) will share in the estate (your father's property), subject to the following:

1) Anything owed jointly between your father and his wife (e.g. a joint bank account; property owned jointly) becomes hers as the surviving joint owner--it doesn't pass through intestate succession (the rules for who gets what, when there is no will).

2) The wife cannot get less than 1/3, no matter how many descendents there are, of the intestate estate (in addition to any joint property that becomes hers).

3) If there is a life insurance policy with named beneficiaries, it goes to the beneficiaries.


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