What is my recourse if my father passed away without a Will and my mother, his ex-wife, took everything.

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What is my recourse if my father passed away without a Will and my mother, his ex-wife, took everything.

My father passed away and I am the oldest child. My mother whom he was

married to for 21 years, but also been divorced from 20 years, swooped in and

collected anything she could get. She immediately collected on SSI and

retirement benefits not handing down anything to me or my sister. Neither had

remarried but I know he would not want her to get anything. This occurred in

6 years ago. Do I have any legal rights to his financial inheritance?

Asked on April 16, 2018 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

No, she has no rights to inherit from him if he did not have a will: a current spouse will inherit if there is no will, but an ex-spouse does not inherit unless and only if there is a will leaving part of the estate to her. Without a will, an ex-spouse receives nothing on her former spouse's death, except anything which he owned jointly with her (e.g. if they were the joint owners, as joint tenants with right of survivorship, of real estate) or which was "pay on death" (POD) or "transfer on death" (TOD), like certain bank accounts. 
Whomever is the personal representative for the estate could sue her to recover whatever she took and bring it back to the estate, to distribute to their heirs (you and your siblings). If you wish to explore doing this, consult with a probate attorney.


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