Inheritance Rights – RI & MA Probate Attorney

Your closest relatives may have a right to claim part of your estate. The laws concerning inheritances vary between Rhode Island and Massachusetts, but there are some general laws that apply to the spouses and children of a deceased person.

Contact Rhode Island Probate Attorney Rui Alves for a FREE initial consultaion about yourInheritance Rights at:
(401) 942-3100 or EMAIL now.


Leaving a will is the best way to ensure heirs or descendants may have an inheritance from your estate if you wish to wills estates to them. Issues of property distribution may arise when a birth parent or adoptive parent dies without making a valid will or without naming an heir to particular property (referred to as intestacy”). In these cases, Rhode Island and Massachusetts state inheritance law determines who may inherit from whom.

Inheritance Rights Spouse’s and Children’s Right to Inherit

Inheritance rights encompass every imaginable sector of relationships. In any given instance, either a family member or friend, may feel that they have a right to a portion of the decedent’s estate. The probate court follows statutory guidelines for determining the inheritance rights of any party to a contested or uncontested Will or Trust situation.

Some of the laws may vary from state to state, which is why it is vitally important to obtain the services of a qualified estate planning and probate attorney prior to engaging in any kind of legal claims regarding a Will or Trust.

In Rhode Island, if a decedent leaves a Will or Trust, the Court will not entertain other variations unless the document is contested in some way by valid beneficiaries. Inheritance rights primarily apply to those situations where a decedent has not left a Will or Trust in place for the distribution of their estate.

Surviving Spouse

A spouse cannot be completely disinherited from a Will or Trust. In community property states, the spouse is entitled to and legally owns one-half of all of the marital assets accumulated during the marriage.

Rhode Island is not a community property state, and follows the law allowing a spouse to claim one-third to one-half of the deceased spouse’s estate, regardless of whether there were any provisions made in the Will or Trust. In some instances the amount the surviving spouse is entitled to claim depends upon the length of the marriage. If the surviving spouse says or does nothing to contest the Will or Trust, then the document will stand as it was written.

Ex Spouses

The act of divorcing negates any gifts or inheritances left to a spouse in a Will automatically. However, to be safe, it is always best to rewrite your Will or Trust following any major life changing event.

Children’s Inheritance Rights

Children are not usually entitled to inherit anything of their parent’s estate. Children may be entitled to claim a share of their parents’ property upon the death of their parents, and most states have laws that protect against children being accidentally disinherited. The circumstances where a new child is not listed along with their siblings, will leave the Court to decide that the parents simply never had the chance to revise the Will to include the new child and they will inherit along with their siblings in equal shares.

In some states the head of the family is prohibited from leaving the familial residence to anyone other than the surviving spouse or minor child. And some states include not only the children, but grandchildren if a child of the decedent has died.

If you want to purposely leave anyone from inheriting any portion of your estate, you must specify and stipulate those very words in the body of your Will or Trust. Otherwise, the Court will follow the laws set for inheritance rights in your State at the time of your death.

Adoptive Children

All 50 states have intestacy laws on file. These laws provide for situations where the decedent did not leave a Will or Trust. All 50 states also have laws on the books that provide for how adoptive children will be treated in intestate situations. This means that the adoptive children will have rights of inheritance through both their biological parents, if known, and their adoptive parents as well until such time as the adoption is legal. The adoption then ends their relationship legally with their biological parents. Certain states will allow the biological parent to remain legally responsible as well if it is stated in the adoption papers.

Whenever any situation in your life changes, marriage, divorce, birth of a child, you should make the necessary changes to your Will, Trust or other estate planning documents immediately and destroy the old ones to avoid unnecessary confusion.

If you or your loved ones are in need of Inheritance Law Counseling in RI or MA contact Probate Lawyer Rui Alves for a FREE initial consultaion at: (401) 942-3100 or EMAIL now.


Will And Trust Information

If you or your loved ones are in need of Custom Wills & Trusts in RI or MA contact Probate Lawyer Rui Alves for a FREE initial consultaion at: (401) 942-3100 or EMAIL now.

Probate Court of the City of Providence
City Hall, 5th Floor
25 Dorrance Street
Providence, RI 02903

Providence Probate Court is located on the fifth floor of City Hall.The Providence Probate Judge is John E. Martinelli; the Clerk of the Court is Paul V. Jabour, Esq. Both are elected by the City Council and serve for a term of six (6) years. If the judge is unable to hear a particular case, the clerk sits in his stead.

Regular Hours:
Monday – Friday
8:30 – 4:30

Summer Hours:
Monday – Friday
8:30 – 4:00

This court has jurisdiction over the following types of case:

- Decedent’s estates; this includes persons who have died with a Will (testate) or those without one (intestate).
- Adult Limited Guardianships, either of the person, estate or both.
- Minor Guardianships, either of the person, estate or both.
- Adult Adoptions
- Name Changes

Every City or Town in this state has it’s own probate court, which administers these laws. Probate Court is a court of law established by RIGL 8-9; the operating statute for Probate isRIGL Title 33.

FREE initial consultation is available. Please call (401) 942-3100 or email to get yours today.


197 Warren Avenue
Suite #204
East Providence, RI 02914


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