Wichita, KS asked in Estate Planning, Family Law, Civil Litigation and Probate for Missouri

Q: What are my rights as a widow?

My husband was set to inherit the house that we live in unfortunately he passed away and now my in-laws are trying to kick me out on the streets with absolutely nothing they also took my car away the one that they gave my husband and I when he was alive. What are my rights? What am I entitled to?

1 Lawyer Answer
Chad Garrett Mann
Chad Garrett Mann
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Springfield, MO
  • Licensed in Missouri

A: First and foremost, I'm so sorry for your loss. Dealing with property and inheritance issues after the death of a spouse can be complex and emotionally taxing. Please note that while I can provide some general guidance on this issue, it's essential to consult with an attorney who can give you advice tailored to your specific circumstances after a full evaluation of the binding documents and law governing your inquiry.

Summarily, the distribution of your husband's assets after his death will depend on several factors, such as whether he left a will, how the property was titled, and whether the property is considered marital or separate property. Under Missouri law, if your husband died without a will (intestate), his property will be divided according to state intestacy laws.

1. House: If the house was set to be inherited by your husband, it's important to determine whether he had actually inherited it before his death. If he did, and if he died without a will, then as his surviving spouse, you would generally have a right to a portion of his estate under Missouri's intestate succession laws. If your husband and you had children together, you would inherit the first $20,000 of your husband's intestate property, plus half of the balance. If there are no children, the surviving spouse inherits everything. If your husband had a will, the house would be distributed according to the terms of the will.

2. Car: As for the car, it's important to clarify how it was titled. If the car was titled in your husband's name, it might be considered part of his estate and subject to probate. If it was titled in both of your names, it might pass to you directly as the surviving owner. However, if the car was a gift to both of you, or if it was marital property, you might have a claim to it.

Please note that these are broad generalizations and the specifics can get quite complex. For example, there are specific rules about what is considered marital and separate property, how to value different kinds of property, and how to handle debts and liabilities.

This is why it's extremely important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. A lawyer fully versed in the facts of your circumstances can help you understand your rights, guide you through the probate process if necessary, and represent your interests in any disputes with your in-laws or others.

Furthermore, I think it's worth mentioning that if your in-laws are trying to force you out of your home or take your car, they might be violating your rights. You may have rights to remain in the home and retain possession of the car while your husband's estate is being settled. If you're facing immediate eviction or loss of the car, you should definitely contact a lawyer right away to protect your rights.

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