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What to Do When There Isn’t a Will

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When a loved one dies without having drafted a will, there are sure to be many questions for those left behind. In these situations, known as interstate proceedings, a Miami probate attorney can best answer the questions concerning the deceased’s estate.

Here are some important things to know when faced with a loved one’s death in the event that there is no will.

Appointing the Administrator

Before assets can be legally and appropriately distributed, an administrator for the estate will  need to be selected. This person essentially acts as the executor, serving as the individual responsible for settling the deceased’s affairs and ensuring his/her wishes are carried when distributing assets. The state will typically appoint the surviving spouse as the administrator if applicable. If there is no surviving spouse, but the individual is survived by a child or children, the oldest child will usually be chosen as the administrator. For situations where a person who is not next of kin wishes to be the administrator, he or she can apply for the role in writing with the probate court in the county where the deceased lived.

There is, of course, always the possibility that another individual will contest the petition for administration. In this case, the petitioner would need to apply for administration “in solemn form,” and both individuals would plead their cases in a civil trial.

Distribution of Assets

Once an administrator has been appointed, he or she will be required to distribute property in accordance with probate law. A Miami probate attorney can explain in detail how the law will apply to the administrator’s particular situation, but typically the estate is divided as follows:

  • When there is only one recognizable heir, he or she will receive the estate in full.
  • If the deceased had both a spouse and a child or children, the spouse receives one third of the deceased’s property, and the remaining two-thirds is split among the descendants.
  • If the deceased is survived only by a spouse and his/her parents, two thirds of the estate is given to the spouse and one third is granted to the parents.
  • Children receive the estate in full if there is no spouse or partner involved.
  • If the deceased is survived only by parents, the entire estate is given to them. Likewise, if the only remaining heirs are the deceased’s siblings, the estate is given to them.

If you have questions about settling a love one’s estate without a will, call a Miami probate attorney at Graham Legal today. We will guide you through the entire process, ensuring it goes smoothly and an already stressful situation is not made more so.

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