What to do about probate and the life insurance regarding my recently deceased father’s estate?

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What to do about probate and the life insurance regarding my recently deceased father’s estate?

My father recently died, he was a doctor for the VA hospital. He had no Will and had been re-married for the past 8 years. Since he had no Will, intestacy law is going into affect. My stepmom has been appointed as the personal representative of the estate, and claims that me and my two brothers (my dad’s only children) aren’t entitled to any of the estate. She also says that regarding life insurance, she’s the only beneficiary because a paper she found said so. She filed a claim yesterday, and basically says we get nothing. Suspicious? What should we do?

Asked on August 10, 2012 under Estate Planning, Utah

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  No, your step mom is incorrect.  If your Dad died with out a WIll then the intestacy laws in Utah will apply.  Had you been children of your father's wife then yes, you would have gotten nothing.  But since you are not the first $50,000, plus 1/2 of any balance of the intestate estate will go to your Step Mom and you and and your brother should share the rest.  Now, that means that portion of his estate that was NOT jointly held.  Property jointly held passes automatically to the other owner at the time of death.  As for the life insurance, if the piece of paper is the beneficiary designation and she was named then it is all hers.  The probate proceeding is a public record and you can review all of it.  It is also a red flag that there are assets not in her name at all that need to go through probate (i.e., not jointly held).  You may need a lawyer. Good luck.

 


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