How Do You Get an Estate Probated If There Is No Will?


Quick Answer

Under U.S. law, an estate generally goes through the probate process even if there is no will. A will typically names an executor who handles the arrangements after the death of the testator. However, when someone dies intestate, the court is placed in charge of designating an executor, reports Nolo.

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Full Answer

According to Nolo, the court uses guidance from state law to decide who to designate as executor when the deceased dies intestate. While each state has different laws set in place, priority is typically given to the surviving spouse, children, parents, siblings, grandchildren or next of kin. Nolo states that the executor assigned by the court will manage assets during the probate process and is in charge of settling debts and distributing assets.

After an executor is designated, the estate is divided. This process is known as intestate succession and differs from state to state. Typically, only blood relatives and spouses inherit under intestate succession laws. Unmarried partners, close friends and charities normally do not inherit anything. Many problems can arise during the probate process if the deceased dies without a will. For example, Nolo says that same-sex partners, common-law marriages and pending divorces can cause some confusion as to whether or not the surviving partner inherits under intestate succession laws.

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