Probate Without a Will Lawyer
When someone passes away without a will or other estate planning documents, there is a good chance their estate still needs to go through the probate process. This is technically known as estate administration, but most people simply refer to it as probate.
The process begins differently when there is no will, and property will be distributed according to the laws of intestate succession rather than according to the written wishes of the deceased person. However, all the other requirements and deadlines of the estate administration process will still need to be satisfied. If a loved one in your family died without a will, you will need to hire a lawyer to manage estate administration, and it is a good idea to work with a probate attorney familiar with handling intestate estates.
The team at Huizenga Law administers the probate process on your behalf efficiently to avoid unnecessary delays or expense.
Determining Who’s in Charge
A will usually nominates someone to serve as executor of the estate and manage final affairs. Without a will, the deceased person’s choices do not have any legal effect. If the deceased person had a spouse still living, that spouse has 20 days to file a petition to serve as administrator of the estate. During that time, no one else can seek the role. After that time, surviving children may petition the court to serve as administrator. If no heirs petition to serve as administrator, then creditors or others who can demonstrate an interest in the estate may petition for the authority to administer the estate. If several people want the job, the court may need to consider evidence to choose the right candidate.
Usually, the court appoints a spouse or adult child if they are willing and able to serve as administrator. Once someone is appointed, they gain authority to access the deceased person’s accounts and take other actions to wind up the affairs of the estate. At Huizenga Law, we can petition on behalf of an interested person who wishes to serve as administrator, obtain the necessary authorization, and move forward with estate administration.
The Administrator is a Fiduciary
The person who volunteers to serve an administrator must wait to take official actions until after the court has granted them a letter of authorization and until they sign an oath pledging to perform their duties as a fiduciary. A fiduciary has a duty to act in the best interests of the estate and the beneficiaries rather than their own personal interests. Making a mistake that appears to be a breach of fiduciary duty could subject the administrator to personal liability. Guidance from an experienced estate administration attorney avoids this and many other potential problems.
Work with the Experienced and Dedicated Team at Huizenga Law
We understand that during a difficult emotional time, the last thing most people want to face are legal requirements, rules, and waiting periods. At Huizenga Law we work to ensure that you understand your role and duties, but we accomplish most of the work behind the scenes on your behalf so you can focus on family matters. We would be happy to meet with you so you can determine whether we are the right team to handle the probate process for your family.