What are my stepmother’s rights regarding my late father’s estate?

UPDATED: Mar 27, 2015

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What are my stepmother’s rights regarding my late father’s estate?

My father recently passed away. His wife of 20 years, Cleo, stated that he did not have a will but he does have a bank account that he opened a long time before he married her. Cleo’s name is nowhere to be found on this account. Cleo stated that she is going to probate the account to gain access. If she does probate the account, will she be able to remove or relocate what ever is in the account? Is Cleo entitled to anything that may be in this account, even if her name is not on it? Are any of his children entitled to anything in this account? He has 3 children ages 41, 46, and 50. He does not have any children with Cleo.

Asked on March 27, 2015 under Estate Planning, Texas


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

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  Your Father died what is called intestate and the intestacy laws in the state of Texas apply.

Under those laws, some one who dies with a spouse and children NOT of the spouse inherits 1/3 of the separate property of the decedent (your Dad) and the right to use the decedent's real estate for life. You inherit everything else, including the 1/2 interest in community property. 

So Cleo gets 1/3 of the account. Good luck.

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