Succession of money in deceased half brother's bank accounts

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      kenrobinson
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      Hello,
      My half brother (both having the same biological mother) has passed away.
      He lived in Louisiana and I live in Washington state.
      His estate consists only of his bank account (checking and savings) with totals under $50,000.
      My brother did not have a Will or Power of Attorney.

      Both of his parents are deceased with me as the closest remaining blood relative.

      He was married only once that I am aware of with no children, but having gone through papers I found his copy of the divorce papers filed in Jefferson Davis Parish in Oct 2007.
      His wife passed away in 2016.
      The Petition for Divorce was made by his wife which states that it and their marriage date are on the same day.
      The Petition also states “No children were born to the marriage between the parties and none were adopted.”
      They were married on August 24, 2004 and Petitioner and Defendant physically separated on August 24, 2004. “Petitioner desires that a judgement of divorce a vinculo matrimonii issue, pursuant to Louisiana Civil Code Article 103(1), on the grounds of having lived separate and apart, without reconciliation, for one hundred eighty days or more prior to the filing of this petition for divorce”

      My brother was admitted to a VA Medical Center about 2012 then finally in a Louisiana War Veterans home for about 3 years before his death suffering from what the doctors believed to be Alzheimer’s.
      He had Dementia and was unable to manage his affairs several years before his death.
      I have access to his bank account and assisted with paying his bills and arranging burial insurance.
      I suppose I could just empty his bank account but I do not believe that would be morally and perhaps legally right without due process.

      Now that he is gone these are my questions:
      what is the process for dispersing his funds?
      Do I need to be legally designated as the heir to his money?
      Does his money count as an inheritance and therefore income tax exempt?

      Thank you.

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