Q: My half-brother has no will. He has a step-sister. Am I entitled to my half-brother’s estate? We have the same father out of wedlock.
A: You say your half-brother has no will, but you did not mention if he is still alive. If he has passed without a will, his estate is considered intestate. Intestacy means that his estate is distributed by government estate distribution rules. These rules specify who controls and shares in his estate.
You must refer to the particular intestate rules where your brother resided. This determines the intestacy rules that apply. You may be able to find them online. Depending on the statutory rules you likely have a right to inherit. You have a closer legal relationship than a stepsister.
Bear in mind that an intestate estate may not include designated or jointly owned assets with rights of survivorship. Your brother could have designated his step-sister as a beneficiary of his life insurance or investments. He may own jointly owned property with his stepsister. These assets would not be controlled by the intestacy rules.
If your brother had children, they may have prior legal rights to inherit. His children can be conceived and born after death and also inherit. This will depend on legislation in each province or state.
Ed Olkovich is a Toronto lawyer and certified specialist in Estate and Trusts Law
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