Do I have to leave Dad's house now that he's gone?


My father died without a will. He was still married to my mother, but they were estranged for 13 years. I lived with and took care of him financially for six years. Three years before his death, he and I had a friend move in to physically take care of him and help with expenses. Will I lose the house to my siblings and mother in probate?


It's possible that you won't lose the house to your mother, but not likely. First, it depends on your state's law, which should set out rules about who inherits property when there's no will. It is common for the surviving spouse and kids to split the property, but the exact rules and percentages vary from state to state. It should be fairly easy to look up your state's "intestate succession" law online, and get an idea of whether or not you're legally entitled to anything. To do this, go to the State Law Research area of Nolo's website and choose your state. When you get to your state's statutes, search for the term "intestate," which means "without a will."

Even if your mother inherits much or all of your father's property, don't ignore the possibility of working something out. She may be willing to acknowledge -- in a tangible form -- your devotion to your father in his last years.

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