Does the Wife Have Any Rights to the Estate?

Note: The DearEsq free 'ask a lawyer' site is offered as a free informational service to the public and is not intended as legal advice. Laws vary from state-to-state, and in addition every situation is unique, and relevant facts may not be known. The answer to the question posed below may not apply to in your state or to your situation. For legal advice in your state and your situation you should consult with an attorney in your state who is familiar with the rules and laws in your state.

If a man dies and leaves his house and land to his grandchild, and only lets his wife live in the house until she dies, or as long as she wants to, does the property have to be sold to repay his debts? Would his wife be entitled to any money that’s left over?

To answer your question definitively, you would need to review the deceased man’s estate plan. The wife’s rights may be dependent on the house being kept, or she may have a “life estate” in the house.

A life estate is the ownership of land, but only for a person’s lifetime. If that is what she has, she should get part of the sale proceeds. The amount will depend on her age and anticipated lifespan, because the older you are, the less valuable a life estate is.