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In January my fiance's father passed away suddenly. From what we were told by his best friend he had been sick and before he made it to the doctor he ended up in the hospital, unconscious, and passed. My fiance was never notified or called.

Two days later his dad's common law wife passed from cancer. She was on hospice, morphine, and so incoherent she didn't even know her partner had died. Her sister and niece and brother took over the estate and anything else they desired.

For a full week they had sole access to all belongings, proclaimed the niece had been named executor, deemed all belongings and property worth any value was part of the estate regardless of who it belonged to and with no regard to items that were family heirlooms. Dad's friend called us and we finally got ahold of the niece who claimed they didn't know how to reach us even though they returned our call from dad's phone.

They removed ANYTHING that resembled paperwork or documents. Refused to give my fiance a copy of the wills or the name of the probate lawyer. Either feigned knowledge or refused to return items specifically asked for. They took dad's computer, truck, gun collection, files, and then called his work and demanded they keep my fiance out of his office until they went through the contents.

This is all opposite of what his dad and dads partner had always told us, and my fiance is the only child. Because we have no information we can't give details to lawyers who want to determine if it's worth fighting but to me it seems there should be some legal recourse regardless of what the niece and sister want. They knew how to reach us yet a week passed and they even had him cremated before we were notified. And there have been rumors that they were involved in making medical decisions for dad, which should not have been allowed.

We live in Texas. Do we go after the hospital ? Pay for a lawyer to argue in probate court? Or at this point can I just file a civil suit against them ?

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After the death of an individual, the most recent valid will must be sent to the county court that the person was residing in.  After that, depending on the state, the will may go through probate court- but the will is a matter of public record, and I would check with the county clerk's office about getting a copy. This will give you a good place to start, and from there you can determine your options.  Additionally, if the will does go through probate court, that is also a public record- so the easiest place to start is either get online and find out who the contact person is in that country and order all records, or if you are there, go in person and request a copy.  There is usually a small fee, or copying charges, and I would have a copy of the death certificate,  although you probably won't need to produce it to get the records.

A Texas estate lawyer will clarify your husband's legal rights. Many documents are recorded in county public records and you might even try an internet search for those documents in the primary county your father in law lived.  Look for county clerk's offices or contact them by phone. If there is no will, a common law wife and HER heirs may not have rights to any inheritance, property, or decisions depending on Texas statute. I live in FL and though I have a partner of over 30 years, I have no rights to anything my partner owns unless it is established in a will, trust, recorded property deed or to any assets covered in a Transfer on Death document that many banking institutions provide.Without a legal marriage document between my partner and I, we must rely on creating other documents instructing how assets will be divided. I would act quickly. Even if your husband and his father were estranged for years, your husband likely has legal rights as his heir.

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