A family member died and didn’t leave a will. What do we do?

No will?  The first thing to do when you discover your loved one didn’t leave a will is contact an attorney who has experience in the area of probate.  The decedent’s estate will be processed through probate.  If your loved one died owning assets in his or her own name those assets will likely have to go through probate.  The process will be lengthy and demanding.  There are steps that can be taken to expedite probate.

A couple of things that you can do in preparation for meeting with a probate attorney that will be helpful are:

  • Make a list of any assets that your loved one owned.
  • Gather up any statements that show exactly how those assets were owned, whether they were owned individually or perhaps jointly with another person.
  • Is there any real estate involved?  Get a copy of the deed that will show how that real estate was owned.

Make a list of any possible creditors that your loved one may have had. Did they owe anything on their credit card? Did they have a mortgage? Did they have a car loan? Those are all things that you’ll want to consider. By gathering that information up now you’ll be able to more efficiently interact with an attorney when you do sit down with him or her.

The passing of a loved one is emotionally traumatic for the family. Thoughts of probate are daunting.  A skilled probate attorney can ease the unforeseen burden placed upon everyone when there is no will to guide you. With the board certified probate attorney’s focus on the legal obligation including transfer of property, personal representative selection, etc., you will be better able to satisfy the decedent’s wishes, avoid conflicts, manage the probate expense, and complete the process in a timely manner.

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