Can a deceased wife’s family lay claim over the property of both hers and the still living husband’s?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can a deceased wife’s family lay claim over the property of both hers and the still living husband’s?

My grandfather-in-law just recently lost his wife quite suddenly. Her children from a previous marriage are now trying to swoop in and lay claim to almost everything that was solely his as well as things he and his wife shared through marriage. One of the children even went so far as to say one of her mother’s guns was missing so she stole 2 of my grandfather’s guns registered to him and took them to her house. Is there anything we can do to keep my grandfather from losing his property and are they even allowed to lay claim over anything since he was married to her and still


Asked on March 27, 2019 under Estate Planning, Arkansas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Depending on whether she had a will and what it said, and if she did not have a will, how long they were married (less than three years, or more), they may be entitled to some of her property, but none of his. Without knowing more about whether there was a will and its contents or how long they were married, we cannot be specific as to what they would be entitled to, other than to say that if she had a will leaving everything to your grandfather-in-law, then he received everything of hers and her children nothing; in most other situations, however, they get at least a portion of her "estate" (what she leaves behind). Your grandfather may need to hire a probate attorney to help him understand what goes to him, what goes to them, and to procedurally take care of distributing the assets in the proper legal way.
But again, in NO case do they have any right to anything that was his--like his guns. If they took his guns, they stole from him--the commited theft. He can and should press charges against them for the theft (especially since if they accidentally or deliberately misuse the guns, he wants to make sure he is not held liable for their acts--the only way to be sure of that is to make it clear that he did not let or permit them to have them) and can also sue them for the value of the guns or anything else taken.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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