How can I find out if I'm legally entitled to inheritance that would have been my father's?

2 answers | Last updated: Nov 13, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My father died 15 years ago and my grandmother died this year. How do i find out if i'm legally entitled to inheritance that would have been his?


Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

When your father died 15 years ago, he ceased to be your grandmother's beneficiary, so you have no legal claim to her property through him.

You must be alive to inherit property under a will, which can sometimes come as a shock to family members, who assumed that a relative’s property would come to them in time.

Your grandmother would be free, of course, to name you to get money or other property under her will. And if she died without leaving a will—and you are her closest living relative, the law in some states may entitle you to take all or a portion of her property. If this is a possibility for you, you can locate the particular laws that apply by searching the name of the state in which your grandmother lived when she died plus "intestate succession."


Community Answers

Cmacp answered...

With all due respect to the Expert answer provided above, I believe "annonymous" should check the Intestate laws of succession for her grandmother's particular State.

For example, Florida Intestate law specifies lineal decendents and half blood relatives. Until 2004,Florida law allowed  Holocaust survivors to make claims against their Great- grandparents Estates. There is no stipulation that the grandparents or parents had to be alive for the succession to pass to the great grandchildren. Given the ages of the claimants and the years of the Holocaust, it's unlikely that the older generations would be alive - yet the great grandchildren's right to inheritance was recognized.  Annonymous makes no mention of if her grandmother was married at the time of her death. Intestate law defines distribution of the Estate regarding surviving spouses. If there is a surviving grandfather and depending on the size of the Estate, it is possible that there would not be any Esate to pass on to other heirs.

As I said, i'm not an attorney, but State laws of succession are based on common law traditions from many different national cultures. As Ms Repa wisely said  - check the particular laws in the State where your grandmother was resident.