If a father’s re-maariage was not legal and he died without a Will, what rights do his children have?

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If a father’s re-maariage was not legal and he died without a Will, what rights do his children have?

Our dad recently died without a Will. Our parents had divorced almost 30 years ago or so we thought. The case had been dismissed and we aren’t sure why, all we know right now is that they were never divorced. Dad had remarried. What rights do we, his children, have? And what rights does his second wife have or was their marriage even legal? She has already filed and is drawing his SS benefits.

Asked on March 28, 2012 under Estate Planning, Mississippi

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  Oh boy.  This is a big concern. If your Father died with out a Will then the intestacy statutes in your state will apply in the distribution of his estate.  If your parents were still legally married when your Father passed away then your Mother is entitled to inherit under those statutes as a spouse.  You and your siblings are entitled to inherit as well.  This is a concern becuase if your dad and his wife owned things jointly then how the title is worded will determine if she receives anything but a court may have to intervene.  Joint accounts will pass automatically. But a house could be an issue.  Seek legal help.  Good luck.


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