What are my rights to my late father’s estate?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What are my rights to my late father’s estate?

My estranged adopted father recently died. In his obituary it stated that he left no family, sadly. My brother and I are still here. The executor of the Will denies that he knew of our existence. I spoke with him a decade ago when my father moved; in fact he was the one who told me that my father was moving. The Will identifies universities and animal shelters as the beneficiaries. Do we have any recourse or legal rights regarding whatever assets he may have had.

Asked on February 29, 2016 under Estate Planning, Colorado


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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

A parent may legally disinherit a child. However, in most states there must be specific language to that effect in their Will. If there isn't such language, the children can contest, although to do so can be a long and costly process. A this point, you need to get a copy of the Will. If it has been entered into probate then it is a matter of public recod and you can obtain a copy. If it has not, you can still get a copy because as an "interested party" (i.e. someone who would inherit had there been no Will, you are also entitled to a copy. I would then bring it to a local attorney; they can best advise you as to specific state law. 

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