If my minor children’s father recently passed away but we were never married, what happens to all his personal property and any money he had?

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If my minor children’s father recently passed away but we were never married, what happens to all his personal property and any money he had?

He had no Will and was not ever married. Though I lived with him for 10 years there is no common law marriage in my state His mother believes that it all goes to her first. She will go through everything before anyone gets anything. She believes that she can “pick” through his belongings, taking what she wants and giving out whatever she wants to whomever. She also claims that any of his current money or money made from selling his property (vehicles/furniture),goes to her. His father and siblings are living. This is becoming very difficult/stressful.

Asked on April 14, 2015 under Estate Planning, New York

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Sorry to hear about your children's father.

Since he did not leave a Will, the rules of intestate succession determine inheritance.  Intestate means dying without a Will.

Under intestate succession, the surviving spouse would inherit the entire estate.  Since you were not married, there is no surviving spouse and the children inherit equal shares of their father's estate.  Since the children are minors, it would be advisable to set up a Trust for them in which they would inherit equal shares of their father's estate as each child turns 18.


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