Estate Law Questions? Ask an Estate Lawyer.
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Is the estate's my father until he dies?
No, anything that was in mother's estate would be divided according to her will. So if she had assets in her sole name or other assets that weren't jointly owned with father, then they would be divided up during a probate case to settle her estate.
For example, if she owned a house in her name only, then father gets 50% of it and the children each get 25%. But if mother and father owned property as "joint tenants" then father instantly became the sole owner as soon as mother passed because a joint owner's interest extinguishes upon their death leaving the surviving owner the sole owner.