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When a Father Dies: Children’s Rights Explained

Losing a parent can be a very devastating thing to experience, especially for a young child. While dealing with the emotional loss can be quite difficult, the financial loss can be devastating as well. This financial loss can be especially devastating if the father was the primary earner for the family. If the father of your child has passed away and you want to know what your child’s rights are, here is some information to help you out.

What to do when a spouse dies

When a Father Doesn’t Leave a Will

A will is a great thing to have, in that it helps to ensure that the wishes of your loved one are carried out after their death. While most fathers would want to make sure their children are taken care of after their death, the absence of a will can sometimes make that a bit of a challenge.

When there is no will, the court will have to determine how the property is to be disbursed and to whom. Therefore, although your child might be entitled to more, they may end up receiving less than what their father would have intended.

The procedure of dividing a deceased father’s assets may be simple even without a will. If there are no claimants to the estate aside from a single child, the court will rule quickly in favor of the entire estate being transferred in full to the surviving heir. However, when there are multiple children, a spouse, parents, siblings, and other potential claimants to a portion of the estate, things can get quite contentious and difficult to sort through.

How States Handle Spouses and Children

Even in cases where the deceased left no will behind, most states will recognize children, as well as spouses, and give them preferred treatment over any other potential heirs. The same treatment is given whenever there is an issue where the person has died in an accident.

Although you might be the long-term girlfriend of the deceased, the spouse and children are the first who can file a wrongful death claim. These circumstances can sometimes prove challenging, especially when the deceased was estranged from their spouse and children.

While the rights that a child has to an inheritance can differ depending on the state in which they live, some states will allow the spouse to have full control over the entire estate. This situation can prove incredibly challenging if the children are from a previous marriage. When the step-parent and children are not on good terms, the children will likely end up with the short end of the stick.

When There Is No Spouse

If you and your child’s father were not married at the time of his death, his estate should automatically go to his children. However, if your child is a minor, they will need to wait until they are of a certain age before they can receive their inheritance. In most states, until your child reaches the age of 18 years, a conservator, guardian, or a court-appointed trustee will be in charge of the child’s inheritance.

Whoever manages the inheritance of the child until they come of age must only use these funds to the benefit of the child. In order to ensure this, courts typically require a yearly accounting of the estate. In addition, permission must be granted by the court before large amounts of money can be spent, transferred, or otherwise engaged.

Dealing With Property Without a Will

While a monetary inheritance can have its challenges following the distribution of assets, dealing with the dividing of money can be pretty cut and dry. However, when it comes to property, you might find yourself dealing with the following challenges:

There are multiple children to consider
Taxes are owed on the property
You want to sell due to financial hardship but need permission from the court

Although you are the child’s parent, unless you have the legal authority to make decisions regarding the property, you are merely holding it for your child until they come of age. Unfortunately, this means that you might have to deal with the financial burden that comes with a large home or not being able to relocate for a better job opportunity unless otherwise granted permission by the court to sell.

Always Leave a Will

The best thing for any parent to do to make things easier on those they leave behind is to make sure they have a will. That way, their family is properly taken care of if they pass away. Having a will doesn’t only help those with large financial means. Even people leaving behind very little following their death can save people a lot of trouble and take care of those they wish to by having a will.

Nobody relishes thinking about what will happen in the event of their death. Some people view having a will as being quite morbid. Whatever your personal views may be, it is one of your duties as a responsible parent to create a will. You need to leave behind instructions that help to make sure your family is properly taken care of in the case of your untimely demise.

While it is a good idea to have a will in any situation, if you don’t already have one by the time you start a family, you should certainly make one at that point. In addition to having a will, carrying life insurance can help to protect your family. As a parent, you are likely doing everything in your power to make sure your children are protected while you are alive. By taking these measures, you are simply continuing that protection beyond your life.

By leaving behind a will, you will guarantee that your wishes are met and that everyone is taken care of, as you desire. You and your spouse should meet with an estate planner so that there is a clear plan in place in the event of your death, your spouse’s death, or in the event that you are both killed. Your children are counting on you to protect them. The time it takes to put together a will is nothing compared to the time that goes into sorting things out without one.

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