Mom died without a will. Can my brother just take what he wants even though mom said it was ours to sell and split proceeds if need be?

UPDATED: Oct 12, 2017

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Mom died without a will. Can my brother just take what he wants even though mom said it was ours to sell and split proceeds if need be?

No will

Asked on October 12, 2017 under Estate Planning, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If there is no will, then your mother's "estate" (her property) passes by the rules for "intestate succession," or who gets what when there is no will. In your state (and every state with which I am familiar), that means that if your mother did not have a surviving husband (i.e. was married) when she passed, her surviving children split everything evenly. If that's just you and your brother, you each get half, and his claim to her belongings is not any better than yours. If he is taking things to which he is not entitled, you could bring a legal action (lawsuit) in chancery court seeking a court order requiring him to return anything he should not have taken or in excess of his share. Of course, since lawsuits take time, cost money, can be distracting, and cause hard feelings for years (or forever), if he is only taking a little more (in terms of value) than he should, it's probably best to simply let it go.

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 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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