If my brother died without a Will and he was not married but had a son, is my nephew the sole heir and beneficiary?

UPDATED: Jun 11, 2012

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If my brother died without a Will and he was not married but had a son, is my nephew the sole heir and beneficiary?

My parents and siblings know son/brother’s wishes were to leave majority but not all of the assets to his son, however some assets were to go to 2 others – 1 a sister and 1 his long-time companion (who did not live with him). How can the family execute his known wishes if there is no Will? Can the family seek to appoint deceased’s brother as executor? .

Asked on June 11, 2012 under Estate Planning, Tennessee


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  If your brother died with out a Will that is known as dying "intestate" and the Intestacy statute in Tennessee will apply.  Under the statute if your brother had no surviving spouse (wife) then his child or children would inherit all of the estate.  Once you have a child intestacy statutes generally cut off everyone else.  The deceased brother can file a petition to be appointed as the personal representative of the estate (probably called "administrator" with out a Will).  He has to give notice, etc., to all.  Now, if he is appointed he has to follow the intesacy statutes.  He can not do otherwise.  He could get in to big trouble.  Good luck.

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