What are the maine laws if my mom died without a will?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What are the maine laws if my mom died without a will?

My mom died 3 weeks ago. My
step dad says she didn’t have
avwill, the rest of my family
doesnt believe that. My mom got
22,000.00 from her half of my
grandmas house being sold. My
step dad wrote ne a check for
1,000.00. He now wont give me
my moms valuable jewelery thst
shes been telling me id inherit
sone dqy since i was 12 years
old…i am now 43. I live in
california. My mom and step dad
live 6 months in maine, six
months in florida. Maine law
says that someone who dies
without a will and has a child
that doesnt belong to her
spouse at time of death…one
half goes to spouse, everything
else goes to the kids. Its
called intestate succession. My
moms name is still on the deeds
for both houses. If i take him
to court, would he be forced to
sell both homes and would i get
half of the money? Do i have a
chance at winnibg or should i
just let it go. Also, how can i
find out if she did have a will
in maine and florida and how do
i find out if she had any life
insurance policies?

Asked on August 28, 2017 under Estate Planning, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Retain a lawyer to help you. You write that your mother and step father lived 6 months in FL and 6 months in ME. Legally, one of those states had to be their primary residence--*everyone* must have primary residence. The intestate succession law of the state of their primary residence will apply, and that may change the answers to your questions; a lawyer can help determine which state was their primary residence, and also deal with other sticky issuesl, like the interplay of the FL "homestead" law, which protects someone's residence from creditors--including potentially other heirs. 
The above said, since when there is a spouse and children not with that spouse, *both* ME and FL give the children (you) a share of the estate, you should get a portion of the estate. Assuming there is value in the estate (e.g. the homes are not underwater on their loans), you should therefore get *something*. But there is not enough information to tell you how much you might get, since in addition to determining which state's law applies, there are other factual issues that could *drastically* change the outcome. For example: if any bank or brokerage accounts were held jointly by the two of them, they are NOT part of her estate; rather, on your mother's death, they automatically became the property of the surviving joint account holder (your step father). Similarly, any account solely in her name but held by her as "transfer on death" or "payable on death" would not be part of her estate, but rather would go on her death to the payee or transferee listed on the account.
Therefore, depending on what she owned, how she owned it, any liens or mortgages, and the value of FL real estate which may be affected by the homestead law, you could range from being owed more than half her estate (e.g. if accounts were POD or TOD to you) to roughly half to well less than half (if the FL real estate is protected from going to you by the homestead laws and any accounts were joint with him).
This is a complex situation; you need a lawyer to help you.
As to your other questions: 
1) There is no central registry for wills unless your mother voluntarily (it was not required) filed it in one of the counties in which she lived. You can check with the probate courts in those counties; otherwise, unless you stumble on it or speak to someone with knowledge, you may never know if there was a will or not. Try calling any lawyers or accountants she had, and any lifelong or old friends of hers you know of.
2) Similarly, there is no central site for insurance policies. Try contacting all the major insures with your mother's information.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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