My mother died with no will and her husband has taken everything. Can we stop him?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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My mother died with no will and her husband has taken everything. Can we stop him?

My mother died in August 2015 and since then her husband has kicked my 19 year old sister out. He hasn’t given any of our mums money to us. He has put the house up for sale and made it clear we won’t get anything.
Legally is there anything we can do? My sister is now living with my other sister. He won’t let her have her bed either. He won’t let any of us back in the house for our mothers belongings. We have been to the solicitors but sadly can’t afford the fees but we did what they suggested and wrote to him but he won’t give us anything of our mums. Mum didn’t leave a will.

Asked on March 22, 2016 under Estate Planning, South Dakota


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

When there is no will, a person's belongings and money (her "estate") pass according to the rules of "intestatw succession." In your state, if you are the children of both of them, he inherits everything. If you are her children, but not his:
1) If the house was jointly owned, he gets it;
2) He gets anything in a joint bank account and any vehicles jointly titled to the two them; and
3) He gets the first $100,000 of everything else, then 1/2 of anything left over, while
4) Her children who are not also his children get the 1/2 of the remainder.
It is very likely, therefore, unless she had a very large estate (more than $100,000 over and above a jointly owned house, jointly titled cars, and a joint bank account), that even if you are not also his children, that he'll still get everything.
And if he gets the house, he may remove your sister--she has no right to live there if the owner doesn't want her--and sell the house, keeping the proceeds.

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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