Is my step-mother entitled to property that my dad inherited from my grandparents?

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Is my step-mother entitled to property that my dad inherited from my grandparents?

My grandparents owned a big farm. My grandmother passed away in 2003 without a Will. My grandfather (who wasn’t of sound mind), along with my dad and his brother (their only 2 children)and their wives put everything in their names. My dad died last July without a Will and now  my step-mother thinks that everything that was put in her and my dad’s name belongs to her since they were married. I know I’m entitled to at least 25% their property. I am wondering if I’m entitled to more than that since it was my dad’s inherited property? I also have a daughter and is she entitled too?

Asked on November 22, 2010 under Estate Planning, Kentucky

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The fact that your dad inherited this property has no bearing on your rights (but it would have effected your stepmother's rights if they had divorced).  As to your interest in your dad's share of the farm, it depends on just how title to the farm was held.  If it was held as "joint tenants with rights of survivorship" then your stepmother and the other joint tenants (your uncle and aunt) would split his share. If your father held title to the land as a tenant-in-common then his share would pass to his estate upon his death. Since he died intestate (i.e. without a Will) distribution would be determined by the laws of the state in which he was domiciled as of the date of his death. My research suggets that in KY, with respect to real property, unless the deed itself contains a right to survivorship for the spouse, the surviving spouse would receive 50% and become a tenant-in-common with the children, who would each receive a partial undivided interest in the remaining 50%.  So, if you are an only child you would become a 50-50 co-owner with your step-mother (but only as to your father's share).  At this point, you should consult with directly with a probate attorney in the area.


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