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What Are Your Inheritance Rights As A Brother Or Sister?

Did you recently have a brother or sister that passed away and now you are wondering what your rights are to a potential inheritance? Here are a few key questions that you may have.

Is There An Order Or Succession?

Many states have laws that determine an order of succession when a will was not in place prior to someone's death. Assets typically go to a living spouse and then their children. If there is no living spouse or children, then inheritance would go to the parents. If the parents are not alive, only then will the siblings be included as part of an inheritance when a will is not in place. The estate would then be divided among the surviving brothers and sisters of the deceased. 

What If You Are A Step-Sibling Or Half-Sibling? 

Be aware that a step-sibling is not considered part of the order of succession when someone passes away, and they will not be entitled to any inheritance. The only way that a step-sibling can be included is if the step-sibling was formally adopted to become part of the family. Step siblings only through marriage are never guaranteed to receive part of an inheritance without a will. 

On the other hand, half-siblings receive the same consideration for an inheritance as full siblings. A half-sibling would not receive any less than a full sibling when it comes to inheritance laws. 

Do Siblings Have Different Priorities For An Inheritance? 

If an inheritance is passed down to siblings without a will, then all siblings will be treated equally under inheritance laws in regard to what percentage of the estate they receive. This is often why assets need to be sold to receive their cash value. Large assets, such as a home, cannot evenly be divided when there are multiple siblings involved.

That said, it's possible to make an argument that you should receive a larger inheritance than another person. This is in situations where you have provided care for a deceased sibling while other brothers and sisters did not provide any care. It is best to talk to the surviving siblings about this. You may be seeking to receive reimbursement for medical bills that you paid for or for expenses that you took on to take care of your deceased sibling near the end of their life. 

Reach out to an inheritance lawyer if you have questions about inheritance laws.