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?

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 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.


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