What do you do if a person dies without a will or anything in writing?

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What do you do if a person dies without a will or anything in writing?

A friends father passed and there wasn’t any will or personal rep. or any paperwork to their final wishes. The only wishes were spoken to the spouse and maybe 1 child.

Asked on May 21, 2018 under Estate Planning, Missouri

Answers:

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Legally, the only way to have your wishes carried out after death is to have a written Will. Otherwise, you die "intestate". This means that the intestacy laws of the state in which you are domiciled  at the time of your death will control the distribution of your estate. Typically, a assests in such a situation are divided 1/2-1/3 to the surviving spouse, if any, and the remainder to the childen of the deceased. At this point, your friend will have to file in probate court or, if the estate is small, they can use a faster and cheaper process and file a small estate form (available in most states).


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