What rights do his children have to their father’s estate?

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What rights do his children have to their father’s estate?

My dad passed away 2 months ago. He had a wife still living and 6 children all still living. My step-mom and my 2 half brothers that lived with my dad refuse to give his other children anything. I don’t know if there was a Will or not. What rights do all his other children have to his estate and what should we do next?

Asked on August 21, 2011 Indiana

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss and for the problems that have resulted.  First, we need to determine if your Father had a Will or not or if he dies Intestate - without a Will.  If he dies with a Will then the Will governs the distribution of the estate. If the Will is probated then it is filed in the probate court in the county in which your Father resided at the time of his death.  The Will is a public record once it is filed and you can take a look at it.  You should also receive notification of it being offered for probate as a child of the decedent.  Now, if he died without a Will then you need to determine which assets would be part of his estate for probate. Assets held jointly with his wife passed to her by operation of law when he died so they are not considered part of his estate.  If there are other assets then they have to go through an Administration - probate without a Will - in the probate court and you should again receive notice.  You can look at that file too.  What you do depends on what the situation is but I would consider hiring an attorney to write a letter on behalf of the 4 other children.  Just to see what becomes of things.  Good luck.


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