If a husband were to pass away and his wife’s name was not on the legal papers for the house or his money, would it all go to the government?

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If a husband were to pass away and his wife’s name was not on the legal papers for the house or his money, would it all go to the government?

My dad has extreme dementia and we are considering having my mom get power of attorney but she refuses to because we know my dad doesn’t want to admit his dementia is getting worse. We can get POA easily because of his extreme condition, but are wondering if it’s necessary? We are helping him as is but are thinking if we should take the next step?

Asked on October 16, 2011 under Estate Planning, Washington

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

When someone dies without a Will, they are said to have died "intestate". In such an event, their estate is distributed according to the laws of hte state in which they were domiciled at the date of their death. Typically, in a communtiy property estate a surviving spouse gets their share of any CP, plus their spouse's share of CP; separate property gets divided 1/2 -1/3 of the estate, with the remainder going to the children of the deceased.

Since it's too late to have your father execute a Will due to his mental state, the intestacy laws of WA will control. At this point , you should consult with an estate panning or probate attorney. They can best advise as to your mother's rights and or responsibilities.


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