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My father died with no will do his adult children from a previous marriage have rights?

New York, NY |

My father died with no will in NYC. He had 2 adult children from a previous marriage. He was married to my stepmother for 20 years and they have an 18 year old that both lived with him when he passed. He paid all the bills and the apt was only in his name not his wifes although she lived with him (housewife). He had an apt, life insurance, savings. Does his wife have rights to everything? Do his two adult children from the 1st marriage have any rights? Including following through with his wishes to be buried next to his first wife? He bought a plot in his name next to her a year before he passed. His first wife died two years before he did and his current wife does not want to bury his ashes next to her.

Attorney Answers 4


  1. When your father died without a will, his wife has the primary right to recieve his estate, subject to the rights of his other natural children. If there are more than one child, then the estate will be divided in thirds or more portions. Speak to an estate lawyer right away.

    Good luck.


  2. I'm sorry about your father's death. Who will receive what depends on the way that your father's assets were "titled" (joint tenancy, tenants in common, his name alone, etc.) and the laws of "intestate succession" in New York. Joint tenancy assets pass to the surviving joint tenant. Life insurance, 401ks, and IRAs pass to the named beneficiaries. Assets in your father's own name would pass to all of the children and your stepmother, depending on how NY divies things up in an intestacy. The same would be true of tenancy in common assts.

    As for where your father will be buried ... that's a tough one. I don't know of any formal rulings on that, so it's left up to the "good will" of the survivors to follow his wishes or not.

    The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.


  3. Mr robinson is absolutely correct, i would advise you seek the assistance of an estate attorney ASAP


  4. Although they are from New York, Mr. Robinson and Mr. Gonzalez apparently have no business answering estate questions. They could have Googled the question and gotten the correct response if they did not know the correct legal answer.

    In New York, the first $50,000 and half the estate that is titled in your father's name alone will go to the surviving spouse. The other half gets divided among his children.

    Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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