What are a grandchild's inheritance rights if a grandparent dies without a Will?
My aunt lives in the property but put the house up for sale because she can't afford to maintain the property. There was no Will and my understanding was when my father passed (over 20 years ago) that I was entitled to his portion of the house upon the death of my grandmother. We were told then that if my grandmother passed that my father and aunt would have 50/50 split of ownership and when my father passed we were told I inherited his 50% ownership rights. My aunt just took a contract on the property and is planning on keeping all the proceeds of the sale. I need to know if I have any rights to the proceeds.
Hello. My name is Natasha Goodarzian and I am an attorney in Virginia. My office is located in Tysons Corner. Let me address your question quickly, as I understand it, and allow you to call or email me if you wish to talk more. Feel free to check out my web site as well at www.natashalawfirm.com.
In Virginia, if someone dies without a will, they are known to have died "intestate." In that case, the Virginia intestate succession law applies to protect all heirs of the decedent (the one that died). In Virginia, the intestate succession laws favor descendants of the person that passed away more than collateral heirs (sisters, brothers, cousins).
So, in your case, upon death of your grandmother, if she died without a will, then her children (your aunt and your father) would have equal interests in the house. Depending on how your dad and your aunt owned title to the property, then you may have rights to the property in the same share that he did. In order to determine this, however, we need to explore how your grandmother devised her house (meaning, how she held title to it, whether she had a will, whether the issue went to court as a probate proceeding), whether your grandmother had any other children or grandchildren living at the time she passed, etc. There are a lot of major questions that need to be answered before I go about answering your question.
You need to seek legal help in your area with this as soon as possible. If your grandmother died without a Will (intestate) then the intestacy laws in the state would apply. When your father died will have a bearing on how the property is inherited and by whom.
Under Virginia laws, if a person dies intestate and leaves no spouse but children then the children and their descendants inherit. It is my understanding that if your aunt and your father were both alive when your grandmother passed, they inherited equally. If your father was dead when your grandmother passed, your aunt and your fathers descendants (you and siblings) inherited the property, your aunt 50% and 50% shared by you and your siblings. Was your grandmother's estate probated? What happened then? You need to have an attorney inquire on your behalf and confirm my understanding of the laws in Virginia. Good luck.