Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
FILE - President Russell M. Nelson, president of the LDS Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, speaks in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City during the morning session of the LDS Church’s 187th Annual General Conference on Saturday, April 1, 2017.

SALT LAKE CITY — The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints automatically dissolved Tuesday night upon the death of President Thomas S. Monson, with leadership of the church falling on the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in a shift known as an apostolic interregnum.

President Monson's counselors in the First Presidency, President Henry B. Eyring and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, have now returned to their places of seniority in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Throughout the church's history, the faith's senior apostle has been selected by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to become the church's president. The second-most senior apostle is the president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

President Russell M. Nelson, a retired world-renowned heart surgeon and a Mormon apostle for 32 years, is president of the Quorum of the Twelve and is expected to succeed President Monson as prophet-president of the church.

President Monson set apart President Nelson as president of the Twelve in July 2015.

The new president of the church will be expected to name two apostles, filling the vacancies created by the deaths of President Monson and Elder Robert D. Hales, who passed away in October.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, 85, is now the second-most senior apostle and is expected to be set apart as president of the Twelve.

LDS apostles serve for life and are considered "special witnesses" of Jesus Christ to the world. Three apostles form the First Presidency. Twelve more make up the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

President Nelson also will be expected to name two new apostles, filling the vacancies created by the deaths of President Monson and Elder Robert D. Hales, who passed away in October.

President Nelson joined the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on April 7, 1984. He earned two degrees at the University of Utah in the 1940s and worked as a research professor of surgery and director of the Thoracic Surgery Residency at the University of Utah and chairman of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City.

He served as president of the Society for Vascular Surgery, a director of the American Board of Thoracic Surgery, chairman of the Council on Cardiovascular Surgery for the American Heart Association, and president of the Utah State Medical Association.

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Born September 9, 1924, President Nelson is the son of Marion C. and Edna Anderson Nelson. He and his wife, the former Dantzel White, have 10 children. Sister Nelson passed away in February 2005. In April 2006, he married Wendy L. Watson.

Elder Oaks was born in Provo, Utah. He and his late wife, June Dixon Oaks, are the parents of six children. She died in 1998 and in 2000, he married Kristen M. McMain in the Salt Lake Temple.

Elder Oaks practiced law and taught law in Chicago. He was president of Brigham Young University from 1971 to 1980, and a justice of the Utah Supreme Court from 1980 until his resignation in 1984 to accept his calling to the apostleship.