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My sister passed with no will. She was married but was not living with her husband he left her and resides in South Carolina

Philadelphia, PA |

Her home is in her maiden name and the home was purchased before marriage. She has two surviving children. Who has rights to the property?

Attorney Answers 5


  1. In most cases, the house would be considered your sister's sole and separate property as it was purchased before the marriage and remained in her name. You do not state where your sister and her husband lived before he moved to South Carolina, but he may have also forfeited his rights by deserting your sister during the marriage. From the information you have provided, the surviving children would inherit. If they are minors, a conservator would have to be appointed to handle their inheritance until they reached the age of majority. Be sure to consult with a probate attorney in the county where your sister last resided for more information.

    Please note that I am answering this question as a service through Avvo but not as your attorney and no attorney-client relationship is established by this posting. An attorney-client relationship can only be established through signing a Fee Agreement and paying the necessary advanced fees.


  2. I am sorry for your loss.

    Generally speaking, when a person dies without a will (that is, "intestate"), her assets pass in accordance with the intestate law of the state she lived in. If there was no prenuptial agreement or marital agreement by which her husband gave up his rights to her estate, or that excluded the house from marital property, he might still have rights, but it would be important to know the circumstances of the separation and whether or not a divorce action was started in either state.

    Her children should not lose out, though.

    It's not possible to give any more information since not all the facts are known, but please don't post them here. Someone will need to consult with a competent attorney who is familiar with both family law and estate law.

    I hope this helps to clarify the situation for you.

    Disclaimer: The information posted here is for general inforamtional purposes only and does not constitute legal advice for your specific situation, and no attorney-client relationahip is formed by the posting of information here.


  3. You have a complicated situation with several issues. PA appears to have a similar abandonment statute to the one we have in Michigan. If the spouse is willingly absent from the marriage for more than 12 months, he can be deemed to have abandoned the spouse. In that case, he may not be entitled to inherit from the estate. Since title was in the wife's name alone and there was no Will, the PA intestate laws would apply. If you can make a case for abandonment, then the children would be the sole heirs. If you cannot, then, depending on whether the children were also children of the husband or not, the spouse would receive either half of the estate or half of the estate plus $30,000.

    Since this is almost certainly going to be contested by the spouse, I would strongly advise you to contact a probate attorney to assist you.

    James Frederick

    ***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!


  4. Ms. Reed may be correct. It is also possible that her husband may claim it passes via the PA laws of intestacy as part of the probate estate. Thus as probate property it could pass to him and also be shared with the children. Someone needs to be named administrator of the estate (no will) in order to handle the estate. Priority would go to spouse or children.

    This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is informational in nature only. This attorney may not be licensed in the jurisdiction which you have a question about so the answer could be only general in nature. Visit Steve Zelinger's website: http://www.stevenzelinger.com/


  5. he may have a right to a share via intestate, however there is a statute that says if he deserted her he may not claim such share. The statute is very specific and narrow so you should see an attorney for this.

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