When a person passes away without a will, it can leave his or her family worried about what to do next. The estate will need to go through probate, which is the court process to administer the estate.
The estate may include money, personal property, real property and other items the deceased person left behind. The court can appoint a personal representative who is responsible for filing probate paperwork, paying the estate’s debts and distributing remaining assets to the deceased person’s heirs.
Because the deceased person did not leave a will, the court may be left to interpret what his or her wishes were. It can also lead to disagreements between family members about who is entitled to the property.
The asset distribution will depend on the deceased person’s individual circumstances, however there are a few general rules that apply. If the deceased person was married and had children when he or she passed away, it is likely that the estate assets will go to the living spouse and children.
In addition, if the deceased person leaves children behind and did not have a will to name a guardian for them, the court will appoint a guardian.
If the deceased person was not married, but has living parents the estate will likely go to them. If there are no living parents but there are siblings, the siblings may each receive a portion of the assets.
It’s important to create an estate plan to avoid uncertainty and provide loved ones with peace of mind. An experienced estate planning attorney can help.