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Who gets the house if your parent remarries before passing?

On Behalf of | Jun 26, 2024 | PROBATE

The passing of a parent in a blended family can cause emotions to run high. Sorting through their belongings and figuring out the legalities of inheritance can feel overwhelming. An extra layer of complexity can be added if your parent remarried shortly before their death.

It is crucial for all parties involved to understand how state laws work and what steps can be taken to help ensure that children and spouses alike receive their fair share of an estate.

Community property vs. Separate property

The Golden State follows a community property system for inheritance distribution. This means that any property your parent acquired in the course of the marriage they committed to shortly before their death is equally owned by their bereaved spouse. It also means that the remaining spouse has a claim over such assets unless otherwise specified in your parent’s will. For example, if your parent bought a house after their recent marriage, this house essentially belongs to the bereaved spouse.

However, the assets that your parent acquired before this recent marriage are categorized as separate property, and the bereaved spouse has no claim over them. Separate property can also include any gifts your parent may have received from third parties in the course of their second marriage.

What provisions did your parents make?

If you’re one of the children from your parent’s previous marriage, you may wonder how to claim your fair share of the inheritance. However, if your parent made the necessary provisions, you may have nothing to worry about. Suppose your parent stipulated how their assets will be distributed in a last will and testament; you won’t have to grapple with the uncertainties of intestate succession.

Another crucial provision that might shield you from legal battles with the surviving spouse over the estate is beneficiary designations on retirement accounts such as IRAs and 401(k)s. Suppose your parent listed you and your siblings as the beneficiaries of their retirement accounts. In that case, you won’t have to fight to secure what’s yours.

If your parent remarries shortly before their passing, you and your siblings may wonder if the surviving spouse will cheat you out of your inheritance. However, if your parent makes necessary provisions for your protection, you won’t have to grapple with legal battles on top of grieving the loss of a parent. Regardless of your unique situation, seeking appropriate legal assistance can make your situation clearer.