If there is no Will, whats the next step to getting my dad’s property?

Asked on December 19, 2018 under Estate Planning, Montana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

When there is no will, your father's "estate" (that is the legal term for all the money, property, assets, etc. your father left behind) passes according to "instestate succession" (the rules for who gets what when there is no will). The estate needs to go through "probate" which is the term for adminstering and distributing an estate to those who inherit. There must be someone appointed by the court to be the "personal representative" (sometimes called "administrator"), which means he/she is given the legal right and authority to control and manage the estate's assets. The personal representative will "collect" or find all the assets and property; publish notice of probate in local papers and possibly send notice directly to certain creditors of your father, so that creditors can put in claims for amounts they believe are owned; pay valid claims against the estate; and ultimately distribute the remaining money and property to the heirs.
As your father's child, you are a person who would be appointed personal representative; you can contact the probate court in the county where you father lived for instructions and forms.
If your father was not married when he passed and if you are an only child, you will inherit everything not used to pay valid creditors, but still need to go through the probate process to get legal title. If your father was married (even if estranged from his wife) or you had siblings, you will share the estate with the spouse or your siblings.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.