When a parent of just one adult child dies without a Will, is it legal for the brother of the deceased to enter the deceased ‘s home and take everything?

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When a parent of just one adult child dies without a Will, is it legal for the brother of the deceased to enter the deceased ‘s home and take everything?

My father died with no spouse; he was divorced. Before he was even pronounced dead my uncle, his brother, took it upon himself to enter my father’s home and take pretty much everything, including property, mail and important documents. He also tried to tell me what I could and could not take.

Asked on September 9, 2019 under Estate Planning, Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

Your brother violated the law. When someone passes away with no spouse but with children, the children, not any siblings, inherit everything (well, everything after paying any final expenses or outstanding claims against the deceased). 
As the only child and an adult, you are the likely person to be appointed by the court the "personal representative" or "administrator" of the estate (either term may be used). Apply to the probate court for this role, which is the equivalent of being the executor when there is a will--i.e. it is the person who manages or adminstrates the estate, and has authority to act on its behalf. Then you would have legal standing to, on behalf of the estate, sue your uncle for the return of everything he took, since he had no right, in the absence of a will, to those things.


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