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

Asked on December 19, 2018 under Estate Planning, Montana

Answers:

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.


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