What can I do to get my share of an estate?

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What can I do to get my share of an estate?

My parents have both passed and, as the youngest sibling, I was told by both

of them that I was to receive what they have. I have several witnesses to this. My brother is refusing to get in contact with me about copies of death certificates and a possible Will. I know from witnesses also that there was funds left for me but when I ask questions he won’t answer. What can I do?

Asked on July 5, 2018 under Estate Planning, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It doesn't matter what you were told if there was no will: only a properly executed (signed) and witnessed written will controls what happens to someone's assets after they die. Anything else, including statements heard by other people, is irrelevant. 
If there was no will, your parents' assets will pass by "intestate succession," or the rules for who gets what when there is no will. Typically, that means the children inherit in equal shares. As a child of theirs, you presumptively inherit--you would get a share if there is no will, and that gives you "standing" or a sufficient legal interest, to challenge what is being done with the estate and make sure you get your share. (Note: IF there is a will AND it specifically doesn't leave anything to you, you would not inherit--parents do *not* need to leave anything to a child. But since you would inherit unless that is the case, you have standing to challenge what is being done and see if there is a will and what its terms would be.)
If your brother has taken more than his share of the assets, either under a will (if there is one) or under the rules for intestate succession, he could be forced to repay those amounts.
You need to bring a legal action in court to challenge what is being done with the estate. This is a difficult action for any non-lawyer to bring--especially an agorophobic. Retain a probate attorney to help you.


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