My mom died. I don’t think there’s a will. What do I do?

I’m her only child. She’s wasn’t
married. How do I find out if there was
a will? How do I proceed if there wasn’t
a will? Who, or what kind of an
individual, do I need to contact?

Asked on January 21, 2019 under Estate Planning, Indiana

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

You can thoroughly search your mother's home. If you can't find a Will there, then check with any attorney with whom she may have done business. You can also ask any other professional such as an accountant or financial planner and see if she ever mentioned having a Will made and by whom. Obviously, checking with family and close friends would also be a good idea. If you can't locate a Will, then your mother died "intestate". This means that the intestacy laws of the state in which she was domiciled when she died will control the distribution of her estate. At this point, since you are the only child, you can go to the probate court and ask to be appointed "personal representative" (this is like an executor in cases when there is no Will). If appointed, you'll be in charge of the administration of the estate. Depending on the value of the assets, you may want to consult directly with a local probate attorney who can best advise you further. If the estate is small, you may be able to skip a formal probate. For further general information, you can contact the local probate court or check on-line.

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

You can thoroughly search your mother's home. If you can't find a Will there, then check with any attorney with whom she may have done business. You can also ask any other professional such as an accountant or financial planner and see if she ever mentioned having a Will made and by whom. Obviously, checking with family and close friends would also be a good idea. If you can't locate a Will, then your mother died "intestate". This means that the intestacy laws of the state in which she was domiciled when she died will control the distribution of her estate. At this point, since you are the only child, you can go to the probate court and ask to be appointed "personal representative" (this is like an executor in cases when there is no Will). If appointed, you'll be in charge of the administration of the estate. Depending on the value of the assets, you may want to consult directly with a local probate attorney who can best advise you further. If the estate is small, you may be able to skip a formal probate. For further general information, you can contact the local probate court or check on-line.


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