How do I find out what my dad left me when he died?
Question Details: My father died last week and my mother and I do not get along. My family thinks that I'm in it for the money, not true. My dad was well off and I know he left me something. He was my best friend but I don't know how to ask. How do I find out on my own?
If there is in fact a Will, it will be entered into probate. At that point, any listed beneficiaries should be notified of their inheritance. If you are not so notified then perhaps you weren't left anything. The fact is that adult children can be disinherited; they have no right to inherit anything from their parents. Also, once the Will is filed you can see a copy of it whether or not you're a beneficiary because it is then a matter of public record. Simply go to the probate court in the county in which your father was domiciled at the time of his death. Additionally, as a child of the deceased you are someone who would inherit in the event that your father died without a Will, so you are an "interested party" and can demand to see the Will to make sure that one actully exists.
You should also be aware that certain assets can be transferred outside of probate. For example, if your father had a small estate, property may have been transferred by affidavit or otherwise. Further, some assets may have been held as "joint tenants with right of survivorship", in which case the other joint tenant would have received your father's share of property operation of law. Additionally, funds in a pension, IRA, 401(k), or other such retirement plan also by-pass probate and go directly to the named beneficiaries. The same is true for any life insurance proceeds.
If it turns out that your father died without a Will, then he is said to have died "intestate" so the laws of the state where he died would control. Typically in such a case, the estate is divided between a surviving spouse, if any, and all of the children of the deceased.