If my grandmother recently passed away and didn’t have a Will, where do we start?

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If my grandmother recently passed away and didn’t have a Will, where do we start?

My grandmother has debt that needs to be settled. She didn’t have any life insurance to cover expenses. I think we need to open a bank account in the name of her estate and have all money from her checking/savings/401k put into that account to settle debt. Am I on the right path?

Asked on February 27, 2012 under Estate Planning, Alabama

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  You Grandmother died "intestate" meaning with out a Will in place.  Therefore the intestacy statute in your state will govern how her estate is distributed after debts are paid.  Yes, you are on the right track.  But first you have to be appointed as the peronal representative of her estate by filing a petition in probate court.  Once appointed then you have the authority to marshal the assets and pay debt.  Be careful: you need to alert creditors and publish to insure that proper notice is given on claims. And then you my have some negotiating to do.  Good luck. 


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