What to do if my father did not leave a Will?

UPDATED: Oct 7, 2010

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What to do if my father did not leave a Will?

My father did not leave a Will and he had an IRA that I was not named beneficiary. There are also a few other things too. Like his car. Do I need to be named executor or do I get a letter from the court naming me his only child and relative?

Asked on October 7, 2010 under Estate Planning, Massachusetts


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for yor loss.  Although you did not state how much the IRA was worth, it sounds like your Father's estate may qualify under the Small Estate law in Massachusetts. Since your Father died "intestate" the intestacy laws in the state - those that indicate who receives in the event that there is no Will - will govern.  Many states do allow for a Small Estate Affidavit which depends on the size of the Estate.  Small estate proceeding in Massachusetts are for estates valued at $15,000 or less and there is no real property involved.  You need to ask the court's permission to use the small estate route.  You may need to be appointed as Administrator of the estate to act as the Personal Representative to collect the IRA.  The clerks in the offices of the Probate Courts, located in the County in which your Father resided at the time of his death, are very helpful although they can not give legal advice.  They can give you the forms needed to file.  Good luck.

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