How does the law work with a parents death when there is a stepparent and blood children involved?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2011

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How does the law work with a parents death when there is a stepparent and blood children involved?

My father owns 6 acres of land that I live on that he bought when I was just a kid. When he remarried to my stepmother he took out a loan against it with her name on the loan but not the deed. Now they are legally separated. I was wondering what part, if any, that may play in the claiming of the estate and how that will work between his blood children and her. He just passed away this weekend and I need to see what to do as being the oldest of the blood children.

Asked on September 29, 2011 under Estate Planning, Alabama


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

First of all, because there was no divorce, your stepmother remained your father's legal spouse. Secondly, you did not mention a Will assume that your father did not have one.

Accordingly, his estate will pass via the "intestacy" laws ofthe state in which he was domiciled as of the date of his death. Typically, a surviving spouse is entitled to 1/2 -1/3 of the assets and the deceased's biological/adopted children inherit the remainder (however, this varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction).

Note: As to the real estate, it will pass by intestate succession since her name was not on the deed (the names on the mortgage have no legal bearing).

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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