Who is the next of kin of the deceased if spouse had been separated from him and living in different state for 15 years now? - Estate Planning Law Questions and Answers- LawQA.com

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Who is the next of kin of the deceased if spouse had been separated from him and living in different state for 15 years now?

My dad died recently. He had no will. We found out that he had never gotten a divorce from his wife (not our mother), whom he had been separated from (not legally), for about 15 years. She has lived in another state since the separation. Who's entitled to his bank accounts if it wasn't a joint account and no beneficiaries are listed? She came into town suddenly to claim personal property, including $5000 cash and his vehicle. Seems unfair, but is perhaps legal right. Is this okay?

LAW OFFICES OF JAMES F. MALINOWSKI
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I am assuming that your father resided in Michigan. Under Michigan law, the spouse and children will share the estate, however, the spouse is able to claim certain allowances which can total approx. $40,000. If your father's assets exceed that amount, the children are entitled to their 1/2 share.

Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 1/10/2014


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If your dad was a resident of Florida, unfortunately his wife is entitled to the 1st $60,000.00 and 1/2 of the balance. His children will divide the 1/2 left equally among themselves.

Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 1/10/2014

Answer By Joseph Schramm

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Generally, when there is a spouse and children of a prior marriage involved, the estate is divided equally between the surviving spouse and the children of the prior marriage. Depending on the nature of the separation, if it can be shown that she deserted him for a period of 2 or more years, she might be disqualified from inheriting anything. However, this would require court action to prove and, in the meantime she has cleaned out the bank accounts of your father. You should probably retain counsel to see if she has established herself as personal representative of your father's estate. If she has not done so, one of you should petition the court to be appointed if there are other assets like real property. You can protect the assets of your father's estate and see that they are properly distributed. If she has already become the personal representative you can still require that she file an account and submit to an audit by the court.

Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
Replied: 1/9/2014

Answer By Donald Scher
Donald T. Scher & Associates, P.C.
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When a person dies without a Will (intestate), the heirs are determined by state law. A decedent who is survived by a spouse and children, split the estate according to state law, usually 1/3 to the spouse and the 2/3 remaining is split equally between the children.

Answer Applies to: Arizona
Replied: 1/9/2014

Answer By James T. Weiner
James T. Weiner & Associates, P.C.
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Legally his wife may get the first $50K or so plus 1/2 of the balance of his estate. I would recommend hiring an attorney if he has significant assets to investigate.

Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 1/9/2014

The Bryan Law Firm, L.L.C.
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No, in Louisiana if someone dies without a will, his or her children inherit his property. If he was still married, perhaps the spouse MAY have a claim to her half of any community property. But his children are the sole heirs of his property.

Answer Applies to: Louisiana
Replied: 1/9/2014

Answer By Victor Waid
Law Office Of Victor Waid
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Suggest you obtain the services of a probate lawyer to make a claim on your father's estate, and to prevent the former wife from taking any of the assets.

Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/9/2014

Answer By Brian Haggerty
Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
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If the children are not children of this spouse, then spouse and children should be splitting all 50/50. This is going to be complicated, get a lawyer to help you with the probate of your father's estate.

Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 1/9/2014

Answer By Eric Smith
The Law Office of Eric J Smith
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If your father died in Texas, his spouse gets half of that property and his children not of her issue (you) divide the other half. Chances are the bank will require at least an heirship affidavit which should reflect that.

Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 1/9/2014

Answer By Christine James
James Law Group
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Technically it is her legal right if they were still married at the time of his death. If there is any large value in his estate, see an attorney and see if you can carve out some separate property exceptions based on the separate lives, but she is legally his heir.

Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/9/2014

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