If someone dies without a Will, who determines who is in charge of the estate?

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If someone dies without a Will, who determines who is in charge of the estate?

My mom didn’t leave a Will behind. I was wondering instead of appointing our stepdad, could we choose one of us 3 chilsren to oversee her checking account and her car?

Asked on January 6, 2012 under Estate Planning, Oklahoma

Answers:

Janet Brewer / Law Office of Janet L Brewer

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I'm sorry about your mother's death.  If the value of your mother's estate was $150,000 or less, it might not even be necessary to begin a probate proceeding.  But if a probate is necessary, your stepfather might have "priority" to be appointed as the "personal representative" of your mother's estate.  Under California law, the spouse would have the right to be appointed if there was any community property.  If he agrees to step aside, then any of the children would have the right to petition the court to be appointed as her personal representative.

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