What rights do adult children have when their father passes away without a will?

Asked over 3 years ago - Underwood, IA

I have been given conflicting information. My father was married to wife #2 when he passed suddenly without a will. No children came of this union; my sibling and I are from his first marriage. What, if any, rights do we have to personal property he left behind? The intent of his widow is to sell the possessions.

Attorney answers (2)

  1. George D. Greenberg Esq.

    Contributor Level 10

    Answered . In Nevada and under common law the estate is now "intestate" that is without a testamentary disposition. You have a right to be notified of any court actions taken regarding your fathers estate.

    If a probate has not been opened then I suggest you seek the equivalent of Nevada's "Special Administrator" appointment to take possession of any personal property of the decedent.

    You can then Petition the Probate Court for a formal probate.

  2. James Brian Thomas

    Contributor Level 14

    Answered . The previous response points out the critical fact you need to focus on -- intestacy. As a Texas attorney, any specifics that I provide to you regarding division of an intestate estate might be very different from the rules that will govern in the state that your father resided in at the time of his death. If you've been given conflicting information, it's likely due to the variance between how different states deal with this issue when a person dies without a Will.

    Simply for example, Texas is a community property state. Our laws regarding what is referred to as "intestate succession" take into account the marital status of the decedent and what share of his or her estate is considered marital (community) property and what part is considered separate property. The result of your situation in Texas is a division of the decedent's estate among the second wife and the children of the first marriage.

    Take a moment to make a few calls and visit with an attorney in the state where your father resided at death. Pose your question to them in order to understand how intestacy is treated there, particularly with children from a first marriage. Odds are you'll find that the result is not one-sided in favor of the children or the spouse, but rather subject to some sort of division among them. In any event, after determining what, if any, interest you might have in your father's estate, consider your options to initiate an administration of his estate.

    This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted to practice law in the State of Texas only, and make... more

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