Could anything be done regarding my rights to my late father’s property?

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Could anything be done regarding my rights to my late father’s property?

My father married a women they got a home and property together. He suddenly passed and she took everything. I was told half of the land would be my sisters and I. In being his children but she is now renting out the home and property is there anything that can be done. This is in a community property state.

Asked on December 13, 2016 under Estate Planning, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You do not mention a will, so I will assume there is none. That means that if your father and his wife bought real estate together and owned it jointly with right of survivorship, that it became 100% hers automatically when he died, since she was the surviving joint "tenant" or owner. Similarly, jointly owned vehicles, or joint bank and brokerage accounts became hers automatically on his death.
To oversimplify, since disposition of property after someone passes away is very complex, the only assets or property which you may have a claim to is anything he owned solely in his own name, such as anything he'd owned pre-marriage and did not put into her name, too. In your state, under the rules for "intestate succession" (who gets what when there is no will), if someone passes away leaving a spouse and children not with that spouse, the spouse gets 1/3 of the separate property (and the right to live in or use the real estate/home for her life), while the children share the rest (including your father's 1/2 interest in non-joint community property). 
If there was non-joint property and assets, therefore, you should get 2/3 of it; if the only property was joint (again, jointly owned real estate, joint bank accounts, etc.), it all became hers. If you do not get your share of non-joint property, you can file a legal action (e.g. in surrogates or probate court) to make sure you get your share.


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