How an Estate is Settled without a Last Will and Testament
- June 22, 2019
- Barry E. Janay P.C.
Elder law and estate law attorneys are fairly regularly confronted with situations in which a person dies without a last will and testament. Like many people, you may wonder how an estate is settled when the deceased individual never prepared.
The probate process is governed by the law on the books in each individual state. Despite each state having its own probate code, the law pertaining to settling an estate without a will is pretty much the same from one jurisdiction to another.
The process of settling an estate without a will is known as intestate succession. State law dictates which relatives of a deceased individual is deemed entitled to share in the proceeds of an estate. Examples of family members that might be entitled to property via the intestate succession process include spouses, children, grandchildren, siblings, and parents.
Because there is no will, no individual was designated previously by the deceased person to serve as the executor of the estate. This is another area in which state law comes into play. State law indicates who might qualify to serve as the administrator or personal representative of an estate without a will. Examples of who might qualify to serve as an administrator or personal representative of an estate without a will include family members or even attorneys.
In many cases, a person who dies without a will has a small estate. On the other hand, every year there are noteworthy cases of wealthy public figures who die without a will. Examples of famous people who died without a will include eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes as well as singers Michael Jackson and Prince. If an estate is large and more complicated, and if no will exists, seeking legal assistance to address the probate of the estate is an advisable course to take.
For expert advice on creating your ideal will, contact the law offices of Barry E. Janay, P.C. on 973-284-8525.