Is it illegal for a family member to not tell other family members of another family members death?

One of my brothers died and my other brother never told me of his death. He then

went on to sell his house and kept everything for himself.

Asked on June 12, 2016 under Estate Planning, Alaska


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

1) Does one family member have to tell other family members of a family member's death? No--the law does not require one person to notify another of a death, even in the family.
2) Can your brother sell the other brother's house and keep everything for himself? Only if--
a) He was the joint owner of the home and/or any other assets he kept or sold--if a joint owner, it became his on the other owner's death; or
b) It was willed to him AND the will was both validly executed and properly probated, so that it legally became his.
Otherwise, your brother may have committed theft by taking things which did not belong to him. If you believe that may have been the case, speak to an attorney about suing him to recover any portion that should have gone to you or other family members; you can also explore whether to press charges or not with the lawyer.

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