No Will? Now what?

July 20th, 2020

When someone dies without a will, things can become complicated. How do you split up the assets? If there is a child, who gets guardianship? When can you sell property?

The unfortunate truth is this happens all too often, and it makes the death of a loved one that much more difficult. Oftentimes, when wishes aren’t spelled out in a will, it can lead to families fighting over money and property.

So what do you do once you discover your loved one didn’t leave a will?

It’s actually much the same as if there was a will. Your first step is to contact a probate lawyer. Sure, you can settle the estate without a lawyer, but by hiring a lawyer you reduce the risk of making a mistake and any future litigation. Plus, using a lawyer can help speed things up.

Next, you’ll file a Petition for Probate in the county where he or she died, then you’ll need to attend a probate hearing. Once your petition for probate is granted, you’ll need to get letters of administration authorizing you to act on behalf of the estate.

You’ll then be able to take inventory of your loved one’s assets including finances and personal property, then pay off any outstanding debts. After that, you can report the final assets to the court. Since there is no will, the court decides who will inherit and how the assets are divided.

Now you will be able to pay yourself as the Executor of the Estate and your lawyer, then divide the assets per the court’s order and close the estate.

So if there is no will, you don’t have to worry too much. Yes, it can make things more complicated, but you will still be able to settle the estate and begin to heal your grief.

If your loved one left no will and you need help with probate, I’d love to help you navigate the system and get it settled as quickly and simply as possible. Click the contact page to set up a consultation.