Q: My dad passed and his wife claims that he said that my brother, my kids and I get nothing. Without any documentation.
When my dad was in the hospital, she would not let us see him to say goodbye and claims that he told her that his children and grandchildren get nothing, I finally received the family photo albums with missing pictures. She had only been married for 10 years and she even took the military flag during his funeral. She didn’t even know him then.
A: I'm sorry to hear of your loss and the difficult position you are in regarding your father's estate. Your question did not mention your jurisdiction or if there was a Will. In most states a Will is given priority for how personal property (the flag, jewelry, furniture, photos, etc.) and real estate should be distributed. If there was no Will, most states have strict laws about how an estate is to be distributed as between a surviving spouse and other family. In addition, how he owned real or personal property would also control distribution. For example, if he had jointly owned accounts, the co-owner would have claims over those assets. If you have a written Will or other written instructions, you may want to consult an attorney about your rights. However, keep in mind that in most states there is a limit on how much time you have to make a formal claim, so do not wait too long.
As a general interpretation of Colorado law, the first critical question is whether a person passes away with a valid will. If so, the terms of the will likely control the flow of property and money to specific people. If no valid will exists, Colorado law sets forth a default plan for inheritance.
It is sometimes the case that a will gives all of a deceased person's property to just one person. A surviving spouse is a valid choice for such a gift of the entire estate. However, if the will makes such a gift to a surviving spouse and leaves nothing to anyone else, interested persons can verify that fact. Generally, a will is submitted to the probate court in the county where the deceased person lived. That will can be read by members of the public, or at least by members of the public related to the deceased person. Consider contacting the courthouse in the county where the deceased person lived and ask for help with a probate question, then ask the probate clerk's office how to search records in that county.
In cases where the person passed away with no valid will, Colorado law sets some default rules for property distribution among relatives. Consider contacting a probate or estate planning attorney in Colorado for help if you wish to assert your potential rights in the probate proceedings. An excellent summary of Colorado's default distribution in the absence of a will is available here: https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/intestate-succession-colorado.html
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