Ask Terry Questions Parents separated 20 years, then one dies

Parents separated 20 years, then one dies

By Terry Savage on January 22, 2017 | Wild Card

Hi terry my mom and father were married but been separated for over 20 years my dad passed away on 11/2016 the both of them has all together 6kids with each other my father didn't tell us anything about beneficiary but now he's gone. What's a way we can find out about who's his estate goes to?

Terry Says

You need an estate planning attorney to represent your mother in the state where your father died.  You can find one by going to  That's a website devoted to finding estate planning attorneys in every state.  And since each state has different laws, and since this is going to be complicated, your mother should start with a good attorney. The first step is to find out whether your father made a will.  If he didn't, the laws of the state apply.  Typically, a spouse has an inherited share -- perhaps as much as half, according to state law.  Then children would divide the balance. Again, it depends on state law.  As his legal spouse, your mother must lead the process -- although you can help her through this by finding a good attorney. You should have immediately looked through his papers, etc to find checking accounts or other assets.  If he was living with another person, she might have taken some of those assets.  At the very least, rent or mortgage must be paid while the probate process (the court process for distributing assets) goes on.  It could take six months or more, depending on the amount of assets and the search for  a will.  Get going on this right away!!        



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