If someone dies leavingonly a surviving brother and niece, who are the legal heirs?

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If someone dies leavingonly a surviving brother and niece, who are the legal heirs?

My sister died; her husband left and wants no part of estate. She had no survivng parents or children, just a survivng brother (me). A niece claims right to 1/2 of the estate.

Asked on April 22, 2011 under Estate Planning, New Jersey

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

In the case, where someone dies without a Will they are said to have died "intestate".  Accordingly, the intestacy laws of the state in which they were domiciled as of the date of their death would apply.  If that's NJ, my research suggests that if neither spouse, nor children, nor parents survive the deceased, then the estate passes to the "issue of parents" (i.e. brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, etc.) by representation.  In your case, this means that since you are the only surviving sibling and your niece is the only surviving niece/nephew (I assume since you mentioned no one else), both you and she would share equally in the estate (1/2 each).

To confirm this you should consult directly with a probate attorney in the area where your sister died.  They can best advise as to specific state law.


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