What is a child entitled to if their parent dies without a Will?

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What is a child entitled to if their parent dies without a Will?

My mother died 24 years ago with no Will. Both she and my Father owned a house and other real property cars joint/separate bank accounts etc. A year after she died my father sold off everything walked away and remarried. Because of no Will, was he legally obligated to distribute any portion of the proceeds of those sales to any of their children? He never disclosed anything to them. If so, can anything be done at this point since he did not fulfill a legal obligation? This was in a non-community property state.

Asked on November 29, 2011 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for the situation.  If your Mother died "intestate" then any portion of her separate estate would pass by intestacy statute in the state in which they lived at the time, which I am assuming is not California.  Generally a portion of the separate estate will go to the husband and the rest to the children to be divided equally.  Now, if they held any assets jointly with rights of survivorship - which is probably the houses and the bank accounts - then it passed to him automatically by operation of law when she passed away.  You mention separate accounts her.  That may be the only thing of hers that you were entitled to receive in distribution.  As fr a statute of limitations on going after him, you would need to check with an attorney in the state in which she passed.  Good luck.


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