Q: My uncle died with no will & I was wanting to know if his nieces and nephews are the next in kin (heirs)?
He had no spouse, no children, & his parents & siblings are deceased. I wanted to make sure if my uncle's nieces & nephews are the next in kin (heirs).
If we are his heirs, this leads into another concern - my cousins (his nieces) are currently ignoring & avoiding me & my sibling. I have a suspicion they are trying to exclude us from the probate process so that we can't inherit anything & they get to inherit everything.
I've called the clerk of court (of the county my uncle lived & died in) weekly & they cannot find a case in my deceased uncle's name, so it appears they've not applied for estate administrator yet.
They currently have my uncle's death certificate, keys to his house & cars, among other important documents & since they are ignoring me completely, I don't think I'll be able to get access to those things so that I can apply for estate administrator. It appears they may also be removing things from the house.
What can we do? Do we have any legal recourse?
A: Under NC law if there is no will and given the family tree that you described, you, your sibling, and your cousins are the heirs.
If they are not opening the estate then you should apply to have it opened at the Clerk's office, you will have to get waivers from the other heirs or wait 90 days after the death to get appointed administrator. You can get a copy of the death certificate from the register of deeds where he died. I also strongly suggest hiring an attorney to assist you with the administration as this could get complicated with the family.
Potentially what is happening right now with your cousins could be committing crimes, by removing items from the estate without going through the proper process. This would be another thing to bring up to the Clerk and your lawyer.
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