father died with no will mother never adopted kids she died with no will so family of step mom is entitled to assets ..is there anything the blood children of the father can do?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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father died with no will mother never adopted kids she died with no will so family of step mom is entitled to assets ..is there anything the blood children of the father can do?

neither parent had a will and the fathers estate was never settle then the step mom died no will either ….so was told that the step mom automatically is awarded assets but when she died with no will the assets were granted to her family who have not been in her life ..the father children have had the step mom in their life for years but did not know at the end that she never adopted them ..can anything be done to help the blood children of the father

Asked on March 26, 2018 under Estate Planning, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Actually, when your father died without a will, your stepmother would not necessarily have inherited everything: in your state (North Carolina), when someone dies with a spouse and children, the children receive part of the estate. Some things, however, do not become part of the estate and would have gone directly to her, if they were owned jointly in the right way (like real estate owned as joint tenants with right of survivorship or JTROS) or were held "pay on death" (POD) or "transfer on death" (TOD) to her (like some bank or brokerage accounts). However, anything your father owned which was not owned that way would potentially have a share of it go to his children, not his wife, when there is no will in North Carolina. If you think he owned enough assets (e.g. real estate on which she was not on the title; a separate bank or brokerage account not POD/TOD to her) to justify the expense of an attorney, you should retain a probate attorney to help figure out what you are entitled to, and then to take steps to make sure you get it.

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