If you file bankruptcy now, your rights in the estate will belong to the bankruptcy trustee
, and that means all of the estate assets will be available to pay your creditors.
Assuming that you were to, for example, take possession of the estate assets, and then purchase a home in California, and use some of the estate assets to make the purchase, then you could potentially exempt $75,000 from the bankruptcy estate under the California homestead exemption ($100,000 if married/head of household; $175,000 if age 65 or older, or permanently disabled, or 55 or older and income below $15,000/$20,000 if married).
You could put some of the money into a retirement account, to the extent that you would be permitted by federal law, and protect a few thousand more dollars.
The only other way to avoid losing the money to the bankruptcy trustee is to file a "disclaimer" of your interest in the estate. This would have the effect of directing the estate to whomever would succeed you as a beneficiary under your brother's Will. You might be able to make some sort of deal with that person or persons to have them make you a gift
of some part of the estate after the bankruptcy is closed. However, you would have to simply trust the other heirs, because if your deal were made enforceable in writing, then that would constitute federal bankruptcy fraud.
You could also, simply leave the USA forever. Most people view this as an unreasonable solution. But, since it's an available option, I'm mentioning it to be thorough.
Hope this helps.
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