Do I have a case?
Get Legal Help Today
Secured with SHA-256 Encryption
Do I have a case?
My father-in-law died unexpectedly last month. He did not leave a notarized Will but 10 days before his death, he did leave a paper explaining that he wanted half of everything, plus his entire life insurance, to go to his son, my husband. Did I mention that his wife moved out 7 months prior? Well she did, she left him with the intent to divorce and now apparently she thinks she’s struck gold. She plans to take everything.
Asked on February 27, 2018 under Estate Planning, California
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 3 years ago | Contributor
If there is no will--and a "paper" explaining what he wanted done with his estate, has *no* legal effect whatsoever unless it was executed and witnessed like a will--then your father-in-law's estate passes by "intestate succession." That means his wife--and "estranged" or not, if they never divorced, she is still his wife--gets ALL his "community property," or everything he obtained, earned, bought, acquired, etc. during marriage (even while they were apart) other than what he inherited or was given as a gift; and between 1/3 and 1/2 of all his "separate" property, or what he inherited, was gifted, or had pre-marriage. That, unfortunately, is the law: if your father-in-law wanted to protect his son, he should have had a will and/or divorced his wife.
Your husband should consult with a probate attorney to see exactly what he is inherited (i.e. how much of the separate property) and make sure he gets it.
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.