Settling an Estate Without a Will

If you are in the process of settling an estate for a person who has died without leaving a will, you likely have many questions. What kind of assets are passed on? Who is responsible for the job of administrator? How will the assets be distributed and divided? Who is eligible to receive these assets? In this blog, our Montgomery County probate lawyer outlines the basics of what happens when someone dies without a will.

What kind of assets are passed on?

When a person dies with or without a will, their property and assets are distributed amongst their family or other beneficiaries. Such assets include the following:

  • Real estate
  • Stocks
  • Bank account funds, 401(k) or other retirement plans
  • Assets held within a living trust
  • Life insurance policies

Who is in Charge of Distributing Assets?

For retirement accounts and insurance policies, the assets are distributed according to the beneficiary designations for such accounts. For revocable trusts, the trustees will distribute assets according to the trust provisions.

Most other assets, however, will need to be distributed according to Statue law under a probate administration. When a person dies without a legal will, the state law lists people by priority of who can be appointed administrator of the estate.

In Texas, any interested party, including creditors, can file the appropriate paperwork to begin an administration proceeding. However, priority for who can be appointed administrator goes to their surviving spouse or the person nominated by the spouse. If there is no surviving spouse, then the responsibility will then fall to the children. If there are no children, the mother or father of the individual are considered next. If no parental executors can be appointed, then the responsibility falls onto the brother or sister of the deceased. If the deceased has neither a living brother or a sister, then grandchildren are considered for appointment of will executor. If no other family member from that priority list can be appointed, then the next surviving kin is entitled in to inherit under the law.

Who is eligible to receive these assets?

Once an independent administrator is named, they are responsible for distributing the assets according to state law. Many times, the distribution required by the State will be much different than you would expect.

If you are a surviving family member of an individual who passed away without a will, it is imperative you work with a skilled Montgomery County probate attorney today. Even with a will, probate laws can be complicated and confusing. Contact Dossey & Jones, PLLC today to schedule your first consultation.

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