When a parent of just one adult child dies without a Will, is it legal for the brother of the deceased to enter the deceased ‘s home and take everything?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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When a parent of just one adult child dies without a Will, is it legal for the brother of the deceased to enter the deceased ‘s home and take everything?

My father died with no spouse; he was divorced. Before he was even pronounced dead my uncle, his brother, took it upon himself to enter my father’s home and take pretty much everything, including property, mail and important documents. He also tried to tell me what I could and could not take.

Asked on September 9, 2019 under Estate Planning, Oregon


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Your brother violated the law. When someone passes away with no spouse but with children, the children, not any siblings, inherit everything (well, everything after paying any final expenses or outstanding claims against the deceased). 
As the only child and an adult, you are the likely person to be appointed by the court the "personal representative" or "administrator" of the estate (either term may be used). Apply to the probate court for this role, which is the equivalent of being the executor when there is a will--i.e. it is the person who manages or adminstrates the estate, and has authority to act on its behalf. Then you would have legal standing to, on behalf of the estate, sue your uncle for the return of everything he took, since he had no right, in the absence of a will, to those things.

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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