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Loren
Loren, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 32042
Experience:  30 years experience in the practice of estate law.
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My father passed away on Sunday, June 28, in Tulsa, OK. I

Customer Question

My father passed away on Sunday, June 28, in Tulsa, OK. I am his son, his only child, living in Dallas, TX.
The circumstances were unusual. The woman she was living with, calling herself his wife, was not legally married to him. She broke up with him that morning, and he gave my aunt a check for $150,000 shortly afterwards -- from what I understand, so his "wife" wouldn't get any of it. Then he took his own life. This all happened in the same day.
Since then, I have heard nothing about any will or anything I might be inheriting, but I am getting the impression that my aunt is going to be using the money to pay off her house, and I don't get the feeling that I'm getting anything.
Please understand, I'm not greedy and never expected anything from my father because he never had a lot. I'm much rather he still be alive. But, I also have kids about to enter college and I am worried that the family may not be respecting my legal rights in this situation.
Bot***** *****ne is, I just don't know what to do. I've tried not to call my grandmother about this, who is in her 90's and is devastated by her loss. I will probably call her today to ask her to explain to me what's going on. But I also want to better understand my legal options.
Thanks,
Brian
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Loren replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for using JustAnswer. I am Loren, a licensed attorney. I will do whatever I can to answer your question and provide you excellent service.
My condolences for your loss.
Before we begin a bit more detail would be helpful please.
Were your father and mother legally divorced?
Did your father leave a last will?
Thank you.
Loren
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Yes, my father and mother were legally divorced many years ago. He had another wife before his most recent relationship, but she passed away.I don't know if my father had a will. Nobody has told me yet. It's the silence that's confusing. When I was up in Oklahoma for the service, the family's lawyer (who has been with them for many, many years) approached me and said that I should call him to discuss the estate. When I talked to him yesterday, he said that he was no longer working with them and they had hired a new attorney. Again, very confusing.I know for a fact that they're trying to make sure that his "wife" (again, not a legal marriage) gets nothing because of the circumstances.
Expert:  Loren replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for the additional information. Oklahoma is among a handful of states that still recognize non-ceremonial marriages, also referred to as “common-law marriages.”
If your father and this woman both held themselves out to the each other and to the public as a married couple and lived together it is possible that she could establish a common law marriage and have status as a surviving spouse.
It would be her burden to prove that the elements of a common law marriage were all met. As an interested party you can open an estate in probate. If there is a will it will need to be produced by whomever is holding it. The lawyer can probably help you with that.
If there is no will then you will be entitled to a share in a portion of the estate along with the other children, if any.
Since it appears you do not live in the same county as your late father, you will want to retain local counsel. The lawyer you spoke with may be able to help with that, as well, even though he may have a conflict prohibiting his representing you himself.
I hope this is helpful.  If you have any follow up questions feel free to post them.  It is never a problem.
Thank you.
Loren

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