entitiled to anything? Or is he within his rights to keep everything without settling my mom's debts? Bill collectors have started calling our house for my mom.
He may have been the beneficiary of the life insurance and the 401K, if that is the case, he is entitled to both. If there was no named beneficiary on the life insurance or the 401k, then the property passes to your mother's estate.
You and your siblings are entitled to 2/3rds of your mother's separate property, not to be confused with all of her property since some must be community property. Your father in law is entitled to a third of her separate property and has a life estate in their house. Meaning he can continue to live there until he dies. Since your father in law is not taking care of the estate you can go to court and petition to be appointed the administrator of her estate, and proceed with probate. I recommend that you hire an Estate Planning Attorney to help you with that.
The information is not, nor is it intended to supplant legal advice. The reader should not consider this information to be an invitation for an attorney-client relationship and should always seek the advice of a qualified estate-planning attorney regarding your own situation.
The previous attorney provided a good assessment of your situation based on the facts you presented. Whether you and your siblings need to probate her estate depends on the value and character of her assets besides the retirement account and insurance policy proceeds. I regularly represent people in the Travis County probate court. I would be happy to advise you in this matter so you can make an informed decision how to proceed. My office is in northwest Austin on MoPac Blvd near Far West Blvd. Ph. 512-795-0565.
My answer relies on the facts as provided, and it is generally not possible to address all contingencies in a brief answer. As a result, my answer is necessarily preliminary and should not be relied on without consulting an attorney who can fully evaluate your circumstances.
I am a little confused about calling the deceased person "mom" and the beneficiary "husband," but assuming that Mom was married to husband, then the beneficiary statement fo the 401K will control the distribution of the 401K assets and Mom's creditors will have no direct claim to those 401K assets. Husband may be liable for son of his wife debts or for support of his children, but I would need to know more. Call Tom O'Meara at 512-441-1411
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