What are my stepmother’s rights regarding my late father’s estate?

My father recently passed away. His wife of 20 years, Cleo, stated that he did not have a will but he does have a bank account that he opened a long time before he married her. Cleo’s name is nowhere to be found on this account. Cleo stated that she is going to probate the account to gain access. If she does probate the account, will she be able to remove or relocate what ever is in the account? Is Cleo entitled to anything that may be in this account, even if her name is not on it? Are any of his children entitled to anything in this account? He has 3 children ages 41, 46, and 50. He does not have any children with Cleo.

Asked on March 27, 2015 under Estate Planning, Texas

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  Your Father died what is called intestate and the intestacy laws in the state of Texas apply.

Under those laws, some one who dies with a spouse and children NOT of the spouse inherits 1/3 of the separate property of the decedent (your Dad) and the right to use the decedent's real estate for life. You inherit everything else, including the 1/2 interest in community property. 

So Cleo gets 1/3 of the account. Good luck.


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.