As the only living child, do I have the rights to manage the entire estates that my deceased parents left?

My parents passed away and left a portion of land without a will on who shall
inherit the estates that they have left. I am the only child alive. I had a
brother but he also passed away prior than my mother. My brother left a wife and
children. My sister-in-law wife of my deceased brother and his children are
insisting that they have the rights to manage and decide on what should be done
with the estates that my parents have left. What should I do, as the only living
child and next-of-kin?

Asked on March 4, 2019 under Estate Planning, Alaska

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

No one has the "right" to manage the estate unless appointed to that role by the court. It is true that you are the most likely person to be appointed, but you still need the official appointment. Apply to the probate court to be appointed the personal representative or adminstrator (either term may be used). You will most likely need to provide notice of your request to be appointed to your sister-in-law and neices/nephews, so they can object if they want to and believe they have grounds (e.g. that you have a criminal past and cannot be trusted). You can get instructions on applying from the probate clerk's office.
If you are appointed, you will need to pay any legitimate debts of the estate from estate funds (not your own personal money) and will have to distribute the estate as per your state's rules for "intestate succession" (who gets what when there is no will). In your state, that means that you will inherit 1/2 the estate, your brother's children will share the other 1/2 (the half which would have gone to him, were he alive). His wife does not inherit from her in-laws when there is no will.


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