If you are the only living kin to a person who has died, what rights do you have over other family members?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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If you are the only living kin to a person who has died, what rights do you have over other family members?

A person has died. I am the only living kin. I need to find out if there is a Will or

anything. I need to get the death certificate as well but It is not public information.

I have some information but not enough, however I know his family is greedy and they are keeping things from me on purpose. What do I do here?

Asked on May 27, 2018 under Estate Planning, Colorado


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You say that you are the only "living kin" but also write that there are other people in the family, so it is unclear what your relationship to the deceased is (are you a child? grandchild? sibling? neice/nephew? etc.) and the relationship of the other family members to whom you refer (was the deceased married? did he have half-siblings, cousins, etc.). Without such information, a definitive answer cannot be provided, so you should repost you question with additional detail.
That said, if you believe you are the closest or one of the closet blood or adopted relatives to this person, file in probate court in the county in which he lived for what are commonly called "letters testamentary," to be appointed the personal represenatative for the estate. You'll need to provide notice to the rest of the "family" that you are doing this--that provides them the chance to challenge your request, if they believe they have grounds (e.g. a will naming someone executor). If no one objects, you should be appointed and have the authority to manage the estate and distribute its assets according to your state's rules for "intestate succession" (who gets what when there is no will). If someone does object, they will need to come forward with the basis for their objection, such as a will.
A probate attorney can help you do this; if you want to proceed "pro se" (as your own attorney), you should be able to find basic instructions and possibly sample forms from the court, either online or at their clerk's office.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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