My father just passed 7/27/15. In 1972 my mother purchased a piece of property in Dawsonville, GA. In 1997, my father and mother purchased a home. The deed shows their names as Grantees. My mother died in 2004. My father remarried in 2010. The new wife is keeping everything or trying to. I have both my father's and mother's death certificate. I know she will get ss and pension but is there any way I can fight for the house/property. My father did have a will with the military before he went to Thailand. I checked with the VA and they don't keep copies of these wills. What can I do?
2 Answers from Attorneys
I'm very sorry for your loss. The answer to your question will depend on many factors including whether or not either of your parents had wills, and on how the deed listed them and their type of ownership of the property. I encourage you to speak with a probate lawyer right away to determine your rights.
You do not provide all of the relevant details. If the property was in both names of your parents, was it as joint tenants with right of survivorship? There has to be magic language in the deed indicating this. If so, then the land automatically passed to your father upon the death of your mother. I am assuming he never retitled the land in the name of himself and new wife. If he did and the land was a joint tenancy with right of survivorship with new wife then it would pass solely to new wife and you would have no rights.
If the land was not retitled and was owned solely by your father, then the land would pass at his death as per his will, if any. If there is no will (telling me he had a will a long time ago when he served in the military does no good because your father was presumably out of the military and could have made a new will or otherwise revoked his military will) then the land will pass under the intestacy law to your father's new wife and your father's children. You do not indicate whether you had any siblings so your percentage of the land could vary.
I am not familiar enough with the military but if they do not have a copy then you need to see if yoour father had a copy or any new wills laying around. Check his important papers or see if he had a safe deposit box. If the new wife will not let you access, then she can be compelled to produce a will if there is one. But that would require a lawyer.
If the land was owned by your parents as tenants in common, then upon your mother's death, your father would retain his share of the land and your mother's 50% would pass through probate. You do not indicate if your mother had a will. Her share of the land would have passed as per her will or if none then by intestacy to your father and you and your siblings.
Attorney Worrall is correct. You need to take a copy of the deeds, any wills you can locate and copies of any estate file for your mother and pay for a consult with a probate attorney who practices in the county where your father lived at the time of his death or where the land is located.