Do the adult children of a deceased parent have any rights to an inheritance?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Do the adult children of a deceased parent have any rights to an inheritance?

My wife’s father died 7 years ago, his wife by a second marriage survived him. They had no children. She had 3 children by a previous marriage, he had my wife and 4 others by his first marriage. In a Will he made before he died, he left his estate to my wife and her siblings, and a grandson of his wife’s, if his wife did not precede him in death. She recently died. Shortly after my father-in-law died, his wife told my wife, who was the personal rep. on the Will, that she was changing the will. She subsequently made her niece the personal rep. We have no copy of that new Will. My father-in-law and his wife owned a condo together, and had savings. We recently discovered the condo is now in a Trust in the her name. She is survived by one daughter, her other 2 children are deceased. In the first Will, they specifically wrote her daughter out of the Will for personal reasons. We have not heard from any of her family, learning of her death only by accident. Do my wife and her siblings have any legal rights to a portion of her father and stepmother’s estate?

Asked on July 18, 2018 under Estate Planning, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

There is no inherent right for adult children to inherit if there is a will; when there is a will, they only inherit if the will leaves them something. You right that his wife by his second marriage survived him and that his estate was left to your "wife and her siblings, and a grandson of his wife's, if his wife did not precede him in death." That implies that if she did not preced him in death, his estate was left to her. If that is the case, then since she did not predecease (die before) him, she inherited his entire estate, at which point it all become her money, property, belongings, and assets. It would then go to whomever she willed to it, or if she did not have a will, to her blood and/or adopted family. Based on what you write, since your father-in-law's second wife outlived him, it does not appear that your wife or her siblings have any right to inherit.

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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