Olympia, WA asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Washington

Q: Does my dad's wife have the right to his house

My dad has will that states upon his death his wife is allowed reside in the house for one year. About a month ago she left him. She moved out and got her own apartment. My dad was then put in a home. She was his main caregiver. She is now quoting the will saying she has the right to the house for a year. She moved out before he was put in the home. It seems to me that the will doesn't come into play. She left him and moved out of the residence. She only came back to move her things out. I live in WA state

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2 Lawyer Answers
Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Crossville, TN

A: The answer does depend entirely on the wording of the will and also on whether the will is accepted for probate. If the will is accepted for probate and says what she says it does then, yes, she has the right to occupy the house for a year. Some attorneys draft rights of occupancy in such a way that this result is prevented if the spouse has already moved out, but it sounds like this will might not have that protection.

Scott John Terry
Scott John Terry
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Sumner, WA
  • Licensed in Washington

A: You are correct, in that the provisions of a Will do not establish legal rights before the testator (your father) has passed away. Not until the Testator passes, and after the will is admitted into probate does the will have any legal or binding effect regarding the administration of the Testator's property. The Will can funcion as an advisory prior to death, but again, prior to death and probate, it is not a legally enforceable document.

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