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Next of kin rights, responsibilities

Cave City, AR |
Filed under: Estate planning

My brother in lwas recently commited suicide. His was divorced andd had two small children ages 7 and 5. His parents gave his ex-wife a death certificate, so she can get his social security. All of his possessions were released to his parents as next of kin. The ex wife called the bank that held the note on the truck and claimed that the truck had been stolen by his parents. He had bought the truck after the divorce, so her name is no where on it. His parents took the vehicle to the police station and dropped it off. Can she legally do this? And what financial obligations will his parents have for the truck, even if it is turned in? Who is legally next of kin, the divorce was final March 2008

He did not leave a will, or any other type of written notification as to how the estate was to be handled. The family does not what to take anything from the children, But had decided to hold onto his things until the kids were older.

Attorney Answers 1


  1. Probate is the legal means for transfering ownership of property to the other after death. In Arkansas, children are favored over everyone, even the surviving spouse. A lot of the advice would depend on if he owned any real property (a house) or any other property totally more than $100,000, a small estate could be opened to collect his belongings and either sell them and hold the money for the children, or simply hold the property. If he still owes money on the vehicle, it will have to be paid or turned into the bank and they will need to be notified he has passed away. And unless someone co-signed for him, the bank will not be able to collect from his children, etc. If he has more items or a home, someone will have to open a full estate and sell the house, and other items, pay anyone who makes a claim, and then distribute the money.

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