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My dad passed away.I am the only son and there is his wife.what are my rights to his estate and bank accounts,his personal beloi

Warren, OH |

he has been married to my step mom for a long time,i am his only son with his ex-wife.i am over 21.she is wanting everything,i dont know what i am intitled to do

Attorney Answers 4


  1. Your question is a common one. The short answer is it depends several factors; 1) is there a will? If so the will controls, subject to some rights in the surviving spouse should she like that option better than what the will says, 2) it depends on how the bank accounts and other property such as cars and any real property were titled, were they joint accounts with you as an owner, were they payable on death accounts, was there a transfer on death affidavit in place for the house, etc. I would suggest contacting a probate lawyer who can gather further information from you an advise you as to what your rights might be, and if appropriate, how to pursue those rights.

    Any response given to a question is not intended to create an attorney/client relationship between this lawyer or this firm and anyone else. Any response is to be considered as a general response to a hypothetical set of facts and is not intended to be, and should not be relied upon as, legal advice.


  2. Mr. Leonardi has given you a good overview of the issues involved. The hard news is that there is no duty to leave an inheritance to one's adult child. So, it really does depend on the factors outlined in his reply. To start, you should ask an estates attorney what your rights are regarding the status of your father's estate, and if there any issues with his Will (if any) which might be raised in a probate proceeding.

    Nothing stated in this answer, or on any pages linked to this answer, shall be construed as legal advice, nor shall anything in this answer by itself operate to create an attorney/client relationship.


  3. In Ohio, if there is a Will, it controls all the probate assets ... except that the spouse has a right to "elect against the Will" in the event the deceased husband tries to cut her out and leave everything to his children.

    Not all assets are probate assets. Assets are not subject to probate (or the instructions of the Will) if they thave a co-tenant (a joint bank account, for example) or have a designation such as "transfer on death" (securities accounts), "payable on death" (bank accounts, CDs and savings bonds) or a beneficiary designation (IRAs, retirement plans, annuities and life insurance).

    You may not be legally entitled to anything at all, so I wouldn't be picking any fights with her, as she whatever she controls will go somewhere when she dies. Maybe to you if she is so inclined, but to anyone else if she dislikes you.

    Mr. Huddleston is an Ohio-Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law, with offices in Columbus and Dayton, serving client families and private business owners throughout Ohio. He may be contacted directly by phone toll-free at 888.488.7878 or by email CLH@HUDDLAW.COM. Mr. Huddleston responds to Avvo questions as a public service to help educate and provide general guidance to questioners, but his responses are not legal advice and do not create an attorney-client relationship.


  4. I agree with the other guys. If he had a will, that generally runs the show. With few exceptions, your Dad can leave his assets to whom ever he wants. If there is no will, then the break down of probate assets, i.e. things without direct beneficiaries or joint owners, are controlled by statute. In that case you and your step mom would be entitled to various fractions. Confusing, I know.

    Please remember that I have provided general legal advice and have not agreed to represent you in this matter.

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