My sister-in-law passed away 3 years ago. My brother is dying from leukemia. He is getting very weak, but was able to tell us what he wants done with things after he passes. Problem is, he has no will and he never changed his wife from beng his beneficary. He has my mother and 4 living siblings, a step son and granddaughter by his step son. Can you tell me what steps we need to take after he passes and what will happen to his money and estate? Thank You.
2 Answers from Attorneys
I am unsure if your brother is currently married. If he doesn't have a will, his estate will pass according to the O.R.C. 2105.06, which is the statute of descent and distribution. This means his wife will inherit everything if he has no children outside of that marriage. Otherwise, if he is unmarried and has no natural or adopted children, his estate will pass to his mother. However, I am unclear regarding for what assets your brother's wife or ex-wife is a beneficiary. For instance, if he has life insurance and she is the beneficiary, she would inherit this. I recommend hiring an attorney to draft a will or trust for for your brother and have him sign it immediately if he would like his estate divided contrary to O.R.C. 2105.06. Also, I recommend having your brother sign a Power of Attorney and having the agent holding power of attorney change the beneciary designations of his assets according to your brother's wishes. If your brother never signs a will or creates a trust before he dies, after he passes, you will have to file documents in the probate court in the county in which he resided to administer an estate without a will unless all of his property is outside of an estate's administration, such as P.O.D. bank accounts.
Please feel free to contact me should you wish to have a Power of Attorney, will or trust drafted on your brother's behalf. Good luck.
This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship and is only applicable to the current law in the State of Ohio.
From your information, it sounds like your brother's wife passed away 3 years ago. If this is correct and she is still listed as beneficiary of his assets, then the contingent or secondary beneficiary will inherit the asset. If there is no contingent or secondary beneficiary named, and he has no will, then his assets will pass under the statutes of descent and distribution. Under the facts that you have stated, if he has not legally adopted the stepson, then his mother would inherit.
At this time, it appears from your facts that your brother is still able to make a will and/or power of attorney. It would be a good idea for him to do so.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.