If mom passed away with no Will, what should I do first?

Asked on July 14, 2015 under Estate Planning, Michigan


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You have a couple of things you need to do.

One... consider having a consultation with a probate attorney to see if you even need to probate your mother's estate. 

Second... pull together as much documentation as you can regarding your mother's estate and finances.  This means identifying any potential creditors and any assets that may need to be distributed to heirs.  You also need to pull any titles that you can to any assets that were owned by your mother (i.e. deeds, car titles, etc.)  Sometimes these documents will have provisions for how ownership will pass, independent of any will provisions.  If everything can be handled via automatic rights of survivorship, you may not need to probate your mother's estate.

Third... you need to get a couple of extra copies of our mother's death certificate and notify anyone that needs to know-- like social security.  You don't want to be accused of retaining funds that belong to a deceased individual.  To turn off benefits, they will usually require a copy of the certificate.

Fourth... gather a list of any potential heirs.  The first line of heirs are spouses and children. 

The more documentation that you can provide the attorney, the more they will be able to provide you the proper direction.

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