When someone dies without a will, those left behind must figure out how to transfer or distribute the deceased person’s property. This often requires going to probate court. Despite the negative publicity probate receives for being complicated and expensive, there are benefits to going through probate without a will.
First, let’s review some probate basics. When you die without a will, this is known as dying intestate. Each state has established guidelines on how property and other assets will be distributed when a person dies intestate. These guidelines are known as state “intestate succession” laws. These laws control how your estate in handled in probate court. Read on to learn more about how probate without a will works.
Benefits of Probate When There’s No Will
Look around your home or apartment, then imagine what would happen if you were suddenly gone. You died and didn’t leave a will. Who would clean your house and where would your belongings go? And what if your heirs started fighting over who kept your dog?
Probate court provides a final decision to many unanswered legalquestions that arise when you die without a will. So here’s why you may want to go to probate without a will:
What’s the Role of the Court?
State courts typically contain a designated probate division, commonly called probate court. Its primary job is to oversee the process that lawfully resolves all debts, taxes and financial affairs of people who die. Probate court also ensures the remaining assets go to the proper people.
Probate court selects the estate administrator when you die without a will. Generally the surviving spouse is appointed. If there is not a spouse, or they decline, the court will appoint the next nearest relative. Some states have residency requirements for administrators, which can create serious issues for families that are spread across the country.
Starting Probate Without a Will
When a person dies, someone needs to do the work of closing out their estate. If you want to start probate without a will by serving as the administrator, you typically start by filing a petition in probate court. Here’s a step-by-step look at how to get the process going.
Have Questions About Probate? Receive a Free Case Review
Getting through probate can be a full-time job. It can feel like there’s an endless array of forms to file and deadlines to meet. To make matters worse, you can be held personally liable for errors made during the probate process. When you have probate questions, seek help from an experienced attorney. Receive a free case review and make the process easier for you and your loved ones.