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What are the rights of the surviving children when a parent, who has remarried, dies?

New Haven, CT |

My father divorced my mother and remarried a woman with her own children. My father has since passed away. Are we entitled to 50% of his estate and the other 50% to his wife? What is CT law and does his will take precedence? Thanks

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Under Connecticut law, if a person dies without a will and has children by a prior marriage, the children inherit 50% of the probate estate [solely owned assets that do not pass by beneficiary designation or under "transfer on death" or "pay on death" designations.)

If someone has a will, there is no requirement of CT law that they leave any assets to their children. If you feel that you were left out of a will because your father "forgot" about you or if you believe that he did not have sufficient capacity to execute a will or that he was subjected to undue influence by his 2d wife, you should contact a lawyer who can explain your rights to you.

Jeffrey Crown


Atty. Crown is licensed to practice law in Connecticut with an office in Rocky Hill. His phone number is 860-257-4330 and his email address is

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I cannot give you a definitive Connecticutt law answer because I am not licensed to practice law in that state. However, it is generally the case that a person who writes a will is entirely free to leave his children out of the will and his estate plans, especially if they are adults. If your father had died without a will and left property in his sole name, typically state law provides for a division between spouse and children. But, apparently, in your case your father wrote a will.


Condolences for your loss. If you dad's estate is large, he has left minor children, has provisions in his divorce decree providing for his 1st marriage children or you feel you and your siblings are not getting your fair share then you should consult an attorney for a thorough explanation of Connecticut's probate laws and court system / process.

In Connecticut if a will exists that is followed first. Also, if the deceased and any person (i.e. second marriage spouse) own property jointly (i.e. House, bank account, etc.) then those assets past to the joint owner immediately upon death of the other.

If no will exists (or the will does not dispose of all the deceased's property) then the administrator appointed by the Probate Court will dispose of those estate assets pursuant to Connecticut's Intestate succession laws. What goes to a spouse (including a second marriage spouse), and what goes to children from a prior marriage, Connecticut General Statute § 45a-437 applies (after payment of any support allowance from principal pursuant to section §45a-320).

In a second marriage situation, where decedent has issue with another (i.e. Children from 1st marriage and/or born out of wedlock), then one-half of the intestate estate passes to the spouse absolutely. The remaining half is distributed in equal proportions among the deceased's children (and legal representatives of any of them who may be dead) pursuant to C.G.S. §45a-438.

Disclaimer: The foregoing answer does not constitute legal advice, is provided for informational and educational purposes only for persons interested in the subject matter. Each situation is fact specific and may be subject to state specific laws. Without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem fully. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.