Philadelphia, PA asked in Estate Planning, Real Estate Law and Probate for Virginia

Q: Father passed away 10 years ago was married at the time of death but since she has remarried is she entitled to estate

My sister was the holder of the will. I was told she lost the will which we all knew how he wanted the estate to be left to his children. Since she lost the will the court suggested we do a estate transfer. If we do the estate transfer it not only will go to his children but the now ex wife since they were married at the time of death. How can I go about getting her excluded from rights to his estate?

1 Lawyer Answer
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Potomac, MD
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: The remarriage is irrelevant. The theft of the Will by the sister is a felony, but it must be proven. After all, storing the Will with one of the heirs or beneficiaries was just plain stupid. The widow is entitled to her intestate succession or her spousal share (often called dower) rights, which varies by the state or commonwealth of the decedent's residence at time of death. Your father's unexpressed or poorly stored wishes have not a whit to do with it unless all of the heirs agree to abide by unexpressed or poorly stored or stolen wishes. In a situation like this, it is time for both sides -- if there are sides -- to "lawyer up." With some luck and careful avoidance of calling the widow names because she remarried after she became a widow, the case can settle and all of the inheritance won't be split by the lawyers. Do better when it comes your time.

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