What happens when my brother dies without a Will and his wife does not have his last name?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What happens when my brother dies without a Will and his wife does not have his last name?

I am his only brother. There is property left that my parents paid for that they want me to have. His wife said no its hers but she doesn’t have his last name and all of his property is in his name only.

Asked on June 24, 2017 under Estate Planning, Virginia


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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

When someone dies wthout a Will, they are said to have dies "intestate". This means that the laws of the state in which the deceased was domiciled as of their death will control the disribution of their estate. Typically, such an estate would be divided between the surviving spouse, if any, and the children of the deceased. Therefore, your sister-in-law would be your brother's legal heir I assume he had no children since you didn't mention any). This is true no matter what her last name is. 

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