How do I know if I'm entitled to a family member's inheritance?

4 answers | Last updated: Dec 04, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My father died and now both my grandparents died. Am I entitled to his inheritance?

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a 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.

Whether you are entitled to take any property depends on the order in which your relatives died and whether they had any estate planning documents that specified who should get their property and how.

The rules that apply to dividing up property take effect when a person dies, and beneficiaries must be alive to be entitled to take property. So if your father died before his parents, their property passed to those in line to take it after him.

To find out who is entitled to get what in your family situation, pay closest attention to the person who died last, and what property he or she owned by law. If your grandparents both had wills, the determining document would be the one belonging to the last one to die. If that person died without a will, which is also called "intestate," the property will be divided according to a hierarchy set out in state law. To find out the specific law in your state, do a search of your state’s name plus "Intestate succession."

Community Answers

Schlauderaff answered...

My Mother and Father did a quit claim, deed on their home and put all 3 children on it. My sister died my Mother died and 3 years ago my brother died. Now my Dad who is 92 wants the name on the deed in his name to protect his wishes but my sister in-law since my brother died had her name on it with mine. She wants full control and he wants to put the house up for sale and use it to move in with me so I can take care of him. He told me he thought the claim was to protect him and Mom from the nursing home and didn't realize all the years he worked for little or nothing to get his home payed and pay for everything he has now is not his decision. I am lost I keep telling him his lawyer did not protect him There should of been some clause stating in case all family members were gone which I am still around and he out lives everyone he would still have his rights protected. What kind of a law tells this elderly man that his daughter in-law who has lived in another state for the past 47 years can just take half and run when he is still alive. What can we do? Doesn't my Dad have any rights to the estate? HELP!!!!!

Maggiesamll answered...

My father inherited money which he bought house and car paid full cash for both. My father died first. My mother recently passed away. She had two children from previous marriage. Is her children entitled to to have anything to do with house or car since bought with my fathers money which he inherited not my mother. Live Illinois.

Geo2015 answered...

How do you, or any of us, know if we are entitled to a family member's inheritance or an estate in general? Or an unclaimed estate... or missing inheritance... I'd say any of us should be talking to proven probate investigation firms -- up to date modern heir locator services... It seems to me at least they have deep legal connections and relationships, and wide forensic genealogical access. Probate investigation services, established probate and estate research firms that have been around for many years really do appear to have the right access to all the essential probate and forensic genealogical databases... and forensic genealogical records -- in order to be able to avoid fraudulent inheritance claims, plus provide estate attorneys and their executor or beneficiary clients the ability to quickly start connecting legitimate heirs to unclaimed inheritance assets. If it were me locating missing heirs, or locating a an unclaimed estate, or unclaimed inheritance assets, I'd want probate researchers with extensive forensic genealogy research experience, and a long background in finding missing heirs or unknown heirs... in other words missing heirs to unclaimed estates. I know enough about finding unclaimed inheritance assets, or a missing inheritance, or complicated probate research investigation, to know that I'd want to avoid amateurs and be talking to established probate and estate research companies, which is real clear from my own research.... for example a group like the American Research Bureau, the team or maybe the organization in Salt Lake City, Utah, where all the forensic genealogy records are... I can see that the basics for locating missing heirs and beneficiaries are mixed up with locating and verifying "rightful heirs", or verifying beneficiaries to an estate. If this was my problem, I'd want one of those seasoned heir location services working for me or my family, or get a referral from a trusted lawyer I know, for a solid probate & estate research company that did lots of case evaluations for trust and estate lawyers... that's the type of law firms and heir finder firms with probate research investigation experience we want on our side No amateurs, no academics or beginners for me, thank you very much.