How are items inside the house divided if my dad passes away without a Will and has a current spouse?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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How are items inside the house divided if my dad passes away without a Will and has a current spouse?

Dad had a second wife of 6 years with whom he had a child but with my mother, his first wife, he had 3 children with. We are all 18 and older but all of us lived with my father and

stepmother. We figured out life insurance goes 85% to the spouse and 15% split between us 3 kids. His company is giving us some money but my brothers have asked my stepmom for specific items in the household – a $300 item a $400 item and she has agreed because she claims to not care about these items. I asked her for the piano in the house because she nor my half brother have any interest in piano and I myself have been playing a lot recently and have an actual use for it. I don’t want anything else in the house except my dad’s piano. She tells us she is trying to be fair and will give us items that she doesnt care for but claims that she wants the piano because her son is going to grow up and play it. But she seems to believe that she has the rights to everything and she will only give us stuff that she could not care less for anyways. Am I entitled or supposed to be able to have anything in the house?

Asked on August 21, 2016 under Estate Planning, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

When there is no will, property passes by "intestate succession"--the rules for who gets what when there is no will. In your state, in this situation, it appears that his current wife gets 1/2 the property, you and your full siblings share the other half.  Her child by your father does not appear to directly inherit anything. As to specific items, however, the law does not provide guidance: if the beneficiaries and the personal representative (who will likely be the current wife, unless she does not want that role) cannot decide on how to distribute specific items, all the court can do is order their sale and distribution of what they are worth. Litigation in cases like this can be very expensive and time consumming; you are strongly advised to work matters out with his spouse, including possibly buying it from her at some favorable rate or cost.

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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