A quick question regarding inheritance and probate.?

Just a quick query. My dad recently died, wasn't married but had a long term girlfriend, and no will but he got 4 kids. I know it's being dealt with by probate now, is it true that the girlfriend has no rights to any of his estate, an what if she spends or sells something, I.e. my dad's car, is she liable to pay it back or something. An what happens if in the end none of the siblings can agree. He does have a considerable estate. Thanks.

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  • Clive
    Lv 7
    6 months ago

    In which country or state? They're not all the same but I see from previous questions you are British. So I shall answer for English law, which also happens to be what I have experience of. If you are in Scotland, probate is called confirmation so I'm guessing you're not there.

    The girlfriend wasn't married to him, so she's not family and gets nothing. If she sells anything or takes his money, that is theft from his estate and will be dealt with as theft. She must return what she took.

    What probate does is appoint executor(s) or administrator(s) to administer the estate. As the nearest relatives, all four of you share the estate equally in accordance with the intestacy rules in the Law of Property Act 1925. And what the High Court Probate Registry will normally do is appoint all of you to be joint administrators. So you can sort it out amongst yourselves as long as you get equal value each. That's all the law says - in the absence of a will and with no surviving wife (divorce always cuts you out of your spouse's will), the kids get equal shares and there is no guidance as to who gets what. How, really, can there be? Sorry, who gets what is your own problem and if you can't agree, the only real solution is to sell everything and divide up the money equally. I hope you will all be sensible so it doesn't come to that.

    The only claim an unmarried girlfriend can have on the estate in English law is if she was dependent on him. If she was living on his income so his death leaves her with nothing to live on, she can make a claim for part of his estate. Which could be expensive as the High Court Chancery Division has to deal with "contentious probate" and both sides will need a barrister. Ever read Charles Dickens's "Bleak House"? It is partly a satire on how slow and expensive the Court of Chancery was, and the Jarndyce probate case in it ends with the entire estate disappearing in legal fees. Today's High Court should be rather more efficient, we hope! But it could still be expensive if she makes a claim. Expensive for her, too, so let's hope she doesn't.

    If they owned a house together as joint tenants, she automatically inherits it and it doesn't become part of the estate. What I don't know is who would pay any inheritance tax on his half, though hopefully that falls within the exemption. If they had been married, no problem as anything she gets would be exempt. (A problem when Sir Nigel Hawthorne died - because he couldn't be married to his partner Trevor and they had a big house, Trevor had to sell up and move somewhere smaller to pay the tax. Being of a similar persuasion myself, guess why we wanted civil partnership, if not marriage!)

    Oh well, moral of the story... make a will! I talked through all this at length with my sister and her partner and wrote wills for them, then they eventually decided what the heck, at their age (they're both 50), let's just get wed. It'll save on inheritance tax and Mum's happy now she has a granddaughter by marriage as my brother-in-law's son from his previous relationship had a baby last year with his girlfriend....complicated, innit?

    Source(s): I did my Dad's probate without a solicitor and read a thing or two on the way.
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    • Morningfox
      Lv 7
      6 months agoReport

      Or it might be a simple "housekeeping" contract. Cook and clean for me, and I'll pay you good wages when I die.

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  • 6 months ago

    The girlfriend has no rights, as she has no legal relationship to your father.

    She doesn't have the ability to sell any of his stuff.

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  • 6 months ago

    She has no inheritance rights under intestate law in MOST jurisdictions.

    She MAY already own much of what you think was your fathers. Actually, for a car, unless she was already the TITLED owner she couldn't sell it at all.

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  • 6 months ago

    Unless there is a specific agreement giving the girlfriend some inheritance she gets nothing. She is not allowed to sell or take anything in your dad's name and she cannot sign off on the title of a car to sell it. That being said, anything for which she is a partial owner is now hers. The siblings have to get together and work out something they all agree with or nobody gets anything which is a pretty powerful incentive for cooperation.

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  • 6 months ago

    In many places, a long-term live-in GF *might* have some rights to part of the estate. It also depends on what promises your dad made to her. It would take a very detailed conversation with an estate lawyer, probably at least an hour, maybe more.

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    • Morningfox
      Lv 7
      6 months agoReport

      She would have rights in just about any common-law jurisdiction. At the very least, she could claim years of wages for cooking and cleaning. Also, dad might have promised to remember her in his will. Even if he never got around to writing his will, that could still be an enforceable contract.

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  • Tavy
    Lv 7
    6 months ago

    In the U.K. his children inherit everything. Unless the car was in her name she cannot sell it or any of his possessions. If the children cannot agree on anything the probate court will appoint an administrator, their cost will come out of the estate.

    So I suggest you all get together and thrash it out.

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  • Maxi
    Lv 7
    6 months ago

    Inheritance law depends on country.....however he died intestate, unmarried with 4 children, 'normally' his heirs would be his 4 children who inherit a quarter each of what is left after all his debts are paid. Unless the car is registered in her name or in their joint names then she would be committing theft/fraud if she sold the car and of course not only would she owe any money to the estate to be distributed but could be arrested and charged.

    The more the siblings can agree the better, but if it has gone to probate then the administrator will do everything so there is nothing for the fighting 'heirs' to decide

    • Clive
      Lv 7
      6 months agoReport

      But what if the heirs are appointed administrators?

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