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I am sure this topic has been discussed, although I didn't find anything. But what was your experience with probate court?My husband didnt have a will. So it has to go through probate. I went there today and am overwhelmed with what they told me. Apparently my 18 year old owns a part of our house. It's just crazy. Is there any tips or suggestions? Of course the one person I can talk to is no longer here. Thank you to this forum for all the support. 



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Hi Melissa, 

I am not a lawyer, but not everything has to be probated. It really depends on the laws of the state and the form of ownership of the house. If you owned the house jointly, with rights of survivorship then the house passes to you outside of probate, as does insurance policies. Probate would come into play if your name is not on the deed of the property. I am sorry you have to go through this. If the estate is large, or there is substantial debt, you may want to consult a lawyer. 

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The answer is yes. Unfortunately in many situations, children get nothing at all in these situations especially if the surviving parent or guardian is an irresponsible adult and they use it for themselves, not the children. I have heard many heartbreaking stories. The only way for the courts to control that a surviving child gets anything when there is no will in these cases is in this manner. I own half my house and my girls each own a quarter. If I want to refinance or sell, I have to pay them out. I’d have to set up a real estate trust for the minor. I’d have to pay out my older child as she’s already 19.  


At at least you didn’t have to post probate for 18 months as is the rule where I live to hear this outcome like I did.

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Since your husband died without a will, the intestacy laws of the state where you reside will determine how your husband's property is distributed upon your death. This includes any bank accounts, securities, real estate, and any other assets he owned at the time of death.


I am assuming the house did not have a TOD (transfer on death) clause and then that is why your son will have rights to part of the estate. Again, this depends on your state's laws.


Not everything will need to go through the probate court - it depends on how the individual assets were set up initially.


Since this is all new to you, I'd suggest hiring a attorney. It will make the process less painful than it would be otherwise.


Even though I have a will, none of my assets will need to go through probate. But, this is not your situation.


Good luck - Mike





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This happened to a family I knew. Husband and wife purchased  and ran a motel. Wife died without a will, and her children from a previous marriage (whom her husband raised as his own) inherited a portion of the motel. In their case it was a happy ending, as they 'sold' their portions back to step-dad for a nominal amount.

When Late Husband and I bought our first house, we read through the paperwork at closing and asked what "joint tenancy with rights of survivorship" meant.  And we were told, "That's what you want." Then someone explained it, and they were right, it was what we wanted. 


You need a lawyer to walk you through this.  Current partner said it would be unusual for a bank to write a mortgage for a home as tenants in common.  Not unheard of, but unusual.

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