Losing a parent is a sad time in life, but it can be extremely frustrating months later when you try to settle the estate with your late parent's relatively-new spouse. If your parent did not have a will and your step-parent is trying to gain control of the estate, you will need to hire a good estate administration attorney to help settle the matters.
Problems When There Is No Will
Settling an estate is so much easier when a parent leaves a will and when the situation is simple, but without a will and with a complex situation, trouble can brew. In this situation, your step-parent might feel entitled to your parent's assets, but you and your siblings might feel completely differently about this.
Without a will, the state steps in and has some control over what happens to your parent's assets and debts. The state will also have control over naming an executor, which is a person appointed to manage the estate. The laws states have when a will is not available are called intestate succession, and these laws help families and attorneys sort things out.
According to Nolo, intestate succession laws generally name the person's spouse to be the executor of the estate, but your step-parent might be the last person you want managing the estate.
Fighting The State Laws
If the state names your step-parent as the executor, you will need to fight this to get these rights removed. Your attorney will help you do this, but the state will only approve your petition if you have the right type of proof. In the case, you may need to express your concerns that the step-parent would wrongfully manage the estate by keeping everything for him or herself.
If everyone in your family agrees with you and you file a petition, the court may remove the rights of executor, and it may give the rights to one of the children.
The goal of this is to prevent the step-parent from inheriting your parent's assets. While the family may be willing to give the step-parent some assets, your parent would probably be happier knowing that his or her things transferred to the children.
This type of situation can be extremely confusing and difficult, and that is why having a will is so important. If you have an aging parent that does not have a will, you should strongly encourage him or her to meet with an estate lawyer to draw one up. To learn more, contact a professional like Edward G. Foster with any questions or concerns you might have.