My Father was married at time of death. I am his only child from a previous relationship. Do I have rights other than that with which deals with probate? This may be an ignorant question but I do not know if probate is the sum of EVERYTHING that was my father's.
Assets that were titled in your father's name alone would normally be considered probate assets. Assets that were jointly held or that have a beneficiary designated would normally pass outside probate. If your father lived in Texas, then he was in a community property state, and the answer can be more complicated. Was there a Will or Trust? You probably need to meet with a probate attorney to look into this further.
I am very sorry for your loss.
***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ***************************************** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state. I hope you our answer helpful!
Mr. Frederick is correct. There are a number of additional facts that any probate attorney would need to learn to answer your questions fully. And I wouldn't worry about your ignorance. Most individuals experience probate law only once or twice during their entire lifetimes. The professionals that deal with these issues every day hardly expect their clients to be experts.
Whether or not a Will exists is the big question. Next, as my colleague points out, a person can have a substantial amount of what we refer to as "non-probate" assets. These assets, if any, pass under the terms of a designation your father made while alive, and not by Will or other law. Life insurance, or "payable on death" bank accounts are great examples.
Texas does not force heirship. Unfortunately, this means that your father may have lawfully taken steps to create an estate plan that does not provide for you. At the other end of the "what if" spectrum is a default system that would provide you with rights if your father never created his own estate plan. Contact an attorney and discuss some of these basic facts with them. You may not get all of the answers that you're looking for, but you will certainly learn what questions you should be asking. Good luck!
This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted to practice law in the State of Texas only, and make no attempt to opine on matters of law that are not relevant to Texas. This answer is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation, and is for promotional purposes only. You should never rely on this answer alone and nothing in these communications creates an attorney-client relationship.
Both counsel are correct. You need to retain a probate attorney in the state where he died or resided or owned land to review the probate records and real estate records. Certainly, if his name is the only name on property and there is no will and you are the only child and he died with no per-deceased children who left children of their own and no surviving spouse, then presumably you would be the heir. if he left a will not leaving you everything, that is different as there is no general right to inherit in most of the USA. Since deadlines are very short in these cases it is important that you hire a probate attorney as soon as possible.