What happens when a Will leaves everything to a person who has since died?

My mother passed away about 3 years ago and left everything to her husband, my stepfather; his Will leaves everything to her. They resided in a community property state. He has not updated his Will since she passed away and has 2 children of his own. If he passes away before changing his Will, do his assets go directly to his 2 children or do his stepchildren have any legal right to his assets (that were jointly owned by my mother and him)?

Asked on July 7, 2014 under Estate Planning, Colorado


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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  If the assets were jointly held with rights of survivorship (generally how it is with a husband and wife) then they passed to him automatically at the time of her death.  The assets are now controlled through his estate and the language of the Will governs.  It may not be readily apparent to you but there should be a provision in the Will that addresses this.  It seems unlikely here that the step children would inherit unless he redoes his Will or the present Will so states. 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.