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What rights do offspring have to deceased parent’s estate?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

My dad passed away in 2010. There was no will (as far as I know). He and his wife (not my mother) bought and owned property together. I have not been in touch with his wife since his passing, but I know she has since sold their house, and has remarried. She has no children, and I am the only offspring my dad had. I am just wondering if there is any legal right I have to anything under Massachusetts law, or if I have the right to pursue anything.

ANSWER BY MARGARET CROSS-BELIVEAU:

As a child, you have no absolute rights to your parent’s assets. A parent may disinherit a child via a will, trust, beneficiary designations to other persons, or holding property jointly with another person. A child’s only claim to assets are if the assets are probate assets; however, the surviving spouse takes the first $100,000 plus 1/2 of the remaining assets if the child of the decedent is not also hers. I have included the link to the spousal rights statute.   https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartII/TitleII/Chapter190B/ArticleII/Section2-102

The only way to pull assets out of joint ownership is if he were in such a state of mind that she could have exerted undue influence over him to force her to place her on the assets with him or if it were a financial account, prove that the account only had her name on it for convenience only. Since it has been 10 years since his death and you had notice of his death and of the joint ownership of the assets, the statute of limitations to bring any such action would have passed by now.
The assets are now hers to do with as she pleases.

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Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice.

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The estate administration attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provide legal services for probate, estate administration, and trust administration. The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Waltham, Massachusetts; and Salem, New Hampshire.

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