How does an estate be disseminated if the deceased didn't have a will? 48 Answers as of June 28, 2013

My father-in-law passed away without any last will and testament. My husband wants to know if he and his brother are entitled to anything.

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Law Offices of Robert H. Glorch | Jeffrey R. Gottlieb
If your father-in-law did not have a Will, his sole name assets would be distributed to his heirs. Heirs would be surviving spouse, if any, and the his children and descendants of any deceased children. 50/50 if there is a spouse, otherwise all to children and descendants.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 8/26/2012
Law Offices of Gerald A. Bagazinski
Law Offices of Gerald A. Bagazinski | Gerald A. Bagazinski
Under the laws of intestacy, the surviving spouse is entitled to her intestate share under MCL 700.2102: Sec. 2102. (1) The intestate share of a decedent's surviving spouse is 1 of the following: (a) The entire intestate estate if no descendant or parent of the decedent survives the decedent. (b) The first $150,000.00, plus 1/2 of any balance of the intestate estate, if all of the decedent's surviving descendants are also descendants of the surviving spouse and there is no other descendant of the surviving spouse who survives the decedent. (c) The first $150,000.00, plus 3/4 of any balance of the intestate estate, if no descendant of the decedent survives the decedent, but a parent of the decedent survives the decedent. (d) The first $150,000.00, plus 1/2 of any balance of the intestate estate, if all of the decedent's surviving descendants are also descendants of the surviving spouse and the surviving spouse has 1 or more surviving descendants who are not descendants of the decedent. (e) The first $150,000.00, plus 1/2 of any balance of the intestate estate, if 1 or more, but not all, of the decedent's surviving descendants are not descendants of the surviving spouse. (f) The first $100,000.00, plus 1/2 of any balance of the intestate estate, if none of the decedent's surviving descendants are descendants of the surviving spouse. (2) Each dollar amount listed in subsection (1) shall be adjusted as provided in section 1210. Then the children of the decedent are entitied to their share. If you have any questions, please contact me.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 8/20/2012
Cale Plamann | Cale Plamann
Possibly. Without a will, an estate follows a state's 'intestacy' statutes. In Wisconsin, this would probably put your husband second in line behind your mother-in-law if she is still alive. That said, the intestacy statutes can get fairly complicated and I would have to know more about your father-in-law's family and children.
Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
Replied: 8/20/2012
DEAN T. JENNINGS, P.C.
DEAN T. JENNINGS, P.C. | Dean T Jennings
The Iowa Code has by law the terms of who is entitled to receive the property of a deceased person who did not have a Will. You must open the estate through the Courthouse and Judge and then follow the law, non-relatives do not inherit.
Answer Applies to: Iowa
Replied: 8/20/2012
Stephens Gourley & Bywater | David A. Stephens
If a person dies without a will the estate is split among the children and the spouse if the spouse is still alive.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 8/20/2012
    Meadow Walker, LLP
    Meadow Walker, LLP | Eric Meadow
    Your father in law's estate will be probated according to state intestacy law.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Leonard A. Kaanta, P.C. | Leonard A. Kaanta
    You have file for intestate probate.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    DOUGLAS A. TULL, P.C.
    DOUGLAS A. TULL, P.C. | Douglas A. Tull
    In Michigan, a decedent's assets that pass through probate will, after expenses of administration and payment of approved debts of the decedent, be distributed in accordance with what is known as the "Law of Intestacy". A person is intestate if they don't have a will. If they don't have a will, the Michigan statute on intestacy sets forth rules as to how the property is divided. Typically, after payment of certain allowances to the family, the estate will go to the surviving spouse and the decedent's parents, if there are no children, or to the spouse and to the child if there is one child, and 1/3 to the spouse and 2/3rds equally to the children if there is more than one child. Having a Will (which means you are testate) allows you to deviate from the State's "scheme". Also, not all property passes through probate, so the above rules apply to only those assets which do pass through probate, and generally those assets are ones which are titled in the deceased's name, only without a joint owner or designated beneficiary.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Howes & Anderson, P.C.
    Howes & Anderson, P.C. | Ronald Anderson
    If the deceased person does not have a Will, then his or her estate passes by the laws of the state in which they lived. This is called intestacy and the laws usually provide for distributions to a spouse and nearest relatives such as children. If there are no children then parents and siblings may be able to inherit.
    Answer Applies to: Iowa
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Lisa L. Hogreve, LC | Lisa L. Hogreve
    When someone dies without a will, their property passes according to statute. Your husband and brother-in-law may be entitled to something. How much they are entitled to depends on whether your father-in-law had a spouse when he died, if that spouse is the mother of your husband and brother-in-law, and how the decedent's property was titled.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Martin Barnes - Attorney at Law
    Martin Barnes - Attorney at Law | Martin Barnes
    I am sorry to hear of your recent loss. This very good question is often asked. If someone passes without a will their property will be distributed based on statutory law. In Indiana certain statutes are referred to as the Intestacy statutes and they provide guidance as to how property is to be distributed to the heirs of someone who has died. You husband and his brother are very likely entitled to a portion of their father's estate. Encourage your husband to visit with an Indiana attorney who can assist him in this matter.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Slotnick & Schwartz
    Slotnick & Schwartz | Leonard T. Schwartz
    Yes. If they are the next of kin they need to go o the Surrogate's office in the county your father in law lived in. They will be appointed Administrators and then can follow the procedure - intestate - to settle to estate.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Hunter Law Offices, PLLC
    Hunter Law Offices, PLLC | S. Christopher Hunter
    When a person dies without a will the legal community refers to it as dying intestate. If someone dies intestate then state law will determine who is entitled to get what and how much. Usually the order of inheritance goes something like this to spouse if living, children and/or their children's descendants if living, siblings and/or their descendants if living, grandparents if living and grandparents descendants if living. At some point if there is no one living then the state will get the assets. The first step when someone passes away is to determine what they owned when they passed away. The second step is to determine whether it is a probatable asset (stuff that the father owned that has to go through probate court to be transferred to the heirs) or a non probatable assets (stuff that passed automatically to the individual the deceased wanted it to go to). The general rule of thumb is that assets held in a trust, were jointly owned, had named beneficiaries, do not have to go through probate. All other assets do. Also to be determined is who the personal representative (the person who is responsible for paying any bills or expenses that the father owed out of the estate and then distributing any remaining assets to the family). The order that someone is given priority to be the personal representative is the same order given to inherit when someone dies intestate. If your husband and his brother are your father in laws closest living relatives then they would have equal priority to be the PR. They would have to decide who should do it. I would definitely consult with an attorney who should be able to give you specific advice about your situation as every situation is different.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Law Offices of Charles R. Perry
    Law Offices of Charles R. Perry | Charles R. Perry
    Assuming there is in fact no will, your father-in-law's estate is to be distributed by the rules of intestate succession found in the California Probate Code. Your husband's rights to any portion of the estate depends on whether (a) your father-in-law's spouse was alive at the time he passed away; and (b) your father-in-law had any separate property. If your father-in-law was not married at the time of his passing, then your husband and brother-in-law would ordinarily have rights to an inheritance. A review of your father-in-law's estate with a probate lawyer will help you answer the questions, and determine if a probate is necessary. You may be able to get answers to these questions in a short telephone conference.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Darrell B. Reynolds, P.C. | Darrell B. Reynolds
    It depends on the circumstances.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/28/2013
    The Law Offices of Tres A. Porter | Tres A. Porter
    In California, during a probate, if a person dies without a will (intestate) the property is distributed by what is known as intestate succession. It is very likely your husband and his sibling would inherit a percentage of the estate. Was the father married?
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Law Offices of Frances Headley | Frances Headley
    Under the laws of intestate succession all community property passes to the surviving spouse. Separate property[owned before marriage or inherited] is divided in equal shares between the spouse and children. You should consult a probate attorney to review all of the facts and help you determine how the property should be divided.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
    Pursuant to the state law of the state where he resided. Without more information it is difficult to answer your question. If he was NOT married, then his children would be entitled to the Estate. If he was married, the answer is much more complicated.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    GOLD & ASSOCIATES, P.C.
    GOLD & ASSOCIATES, P.C. | KENNETH GOLD
    If someone dies with assets just in his or her name, a probate estate will have to be opened in the county they lived in. If they don't have a Will, the State of Michigan has laws as to who has priority to open the estate and become the personal representative and also as to how much each interested party will receive.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Frederick & Frederick PLC | James P Frederick
    It depends on the state that dad lived in. It also depends on whether he was married or not. Finally, it depends on the title to his assets. If he died with everything titled in joint names with someone else, or with someone named as beneficiary on all his assets, then there is nothing left to pass under the intestate laws. If there are assets in his name alone and there is no spouse, then the children would equally divide the estate.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    The Law Offices of Laurie E. Ohall, P.A.
    The Law Offices of Laurie E. Ohall, P.A. | Laurie E. Ohall
    When someone dies without a Will in Florida, they die "Intestate". Florida has "intestacy" rules that dictate who gets what when someone dies without a Will. The answer to your question will depend on whether you father-in-law was married, and if so, whether his wife is your husband's and brother-in-law's mother. If he was married, and she is the mother of his children, then the wife gets it all. If he was married, and she is not the mother of his children, then the surviving spouse gets half, and the children of the decedent share the other half. If there is a homestead involved, that was solely in the decedent's name, the surviving spouse can elect to take a life estate, or can elect to take half of an interest, with the decedent's children taking the other half. Also, please keep in mind that this only applies to assets that go through probate. If he was married, and owned everything jointly with his spouse, she will get everything and the children will get nothing. If your father-in-law was not married, then his descendants (his children) would inherit everything. It would probably be a good idea for your husband to speak to a probate attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Bullivant Houser Bailey PC
    Bullivant Houser Bailey PC | Darin Christensen
    State intestacy law will specify the beneficiaries. In Oregon, it goes first to surviving wife (all if she is the mother of all his children) and children (half if there is a surviving wife who is not the mother of the children; all if there is no surviving wife).
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Law Office Of Victor Waid
    Law Office Of Victor Waid | Victor Waid
    An estate is distributed in equal shares to the first children of the deceased, and to any grandchildren whose parent died before the father in law. In Cliforia this is governed by the Probate code.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/17/2012
    Jane Phillipson Wilson, Attorney at Law
    Jane Phillipson Wilson, Attorney at Law | Jane Phillipson Wilson
    The statute provides for distribution of property. A lawyer can help you identify your rights.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Barlow Flake LLP
    Barlow Flake LLP | Jonathan W. Barlow
    In Nevada, when an individual dies without a will, they are said to have died "intestate" (meaning without a will). When an individual dies intestate, the Nevada Revised Statutes state who is entitled to receive the deceased individual's property, which essentially means that the closest next-of-kin are to receive the property of the estate. If the deceased individual had assets that were owned by only the deceased (no joint owner) and on which there is no designated beneficiary, those assets are subject to probate administration. The level of probate administration that is required depends on several factors, including the total value of the estate, the debts of the deceased, and the nature of the assets owned. Probate administration in Nevada can be a complicated legal process for those unfamiliar with the probate statutes. You should speak with an experienced probate attorney who understands and practices primarily in probate law to ensure that the estate is administered appropriately.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Timiney Law Firm
    Timiney Law Firm | Leigh Anne Timiney
    The answer to this depends upon the state in which your father-in-law was living in at the time of his passing. When a person dies without a will, the state determines what happens to that person's property and estate. Every state has different laws regarding property and who that property goes to when a person dies without a will. I will tell you that in the absence of a will, most states provide that the property passes to a spouse first. If your father-in-law was married at the time of his passing, it is likely his assets and property will pass to his wife. To be sure, your husband and his brother need to consult with an estate or probate attorney in either your area or in the state where your father-in-law was residing at the time of his passing.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    James Oberholtzer, Attorney at Law
    James Oberholtzer, Attorney at Law | James Oberholtzer
    If a person dies without a Will, the state makes a Will for them with default provisions. First the creditors are paid; then the remainder is transferred to the spouse and children if any; if none then to the parents of the decedent; if none living, to the siblings. All of this is described in the state statutes under Intestate Estates.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Mike Yeksavich | Mike Yeksavich
    The Oklahoma statutes provide the division of an estate when there is no will. Think about filing a probate action.
    Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    THE BROOME LAW FIRM, LLC
    THE BROOME LAW FIRM, LLC | Barry D. Broome
    In Georgia the deceased's property is divided as follows: 1. wife and children with the wife receiving a minimum of 25%. 2. No wife - between the children equally. If one of the children is deceased and has children, the children takes his portion. The estate must be probated. We give a 30 minute free consultation. Call the office for a consultation. Your financial plan is not complete until it is co-ordinated with your estate plan. Will your family be provided for when you are gone? Without a Will, the court will decide.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Candace K Ladley, Attorney | Candace Kay Ladley
    When someone dies without a Will, they are said to have died "intestate". California has statutes that set forth who is entitled to the estate. As children of the deceased, they are entitled to a share of the estate if it is separate property. If the deceased left a surviving spouse, the spouse is entitled to the community property and also a share of the separate property. Seek legal advice from an attorney as there are numerous facts that need to be ascertained before your questions can be answered fully.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Richard J. Keyes Attorney at Law | Richard J. Keyes
    If you father-in-law died without a will, then he died intestate. Per Missouri statutes, if he left a surviving spouse and she was the mother of all his children, she would get the first $20,000 of his estate. The remaining estate would be divided 50% to the surviving spouse and the children would split the remaining 50%. Please note the the only assets that would go through probate are the assets in your father-in-law's name only and there is no payable on death provision or transfer on death provision and no beneficiary deed for any real estate. You need to find out what these assets are. If there are no assets, then your husband is not entitled to anything.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Whiteford, Taylor, & Preston | Edwin Fee
    It depends on several factors, including how the assets were titled, the amount of the assets, the amount of your father-in-law's debts and estate expenses, and whether your father-in-law was married. Jointly owned assets will pass to the surviving joint owner(s). Assets with a beneficiary designation will pass to the surviving beneficiary(ies). Debts and estate expenses would be paid from the estate prior to distribution to your husband and his brother. If your father-in-law was married, then his wife would be entitled to a share of the estate. So, if the assets owned by your father-in-law individually exceed debts, estate expenses, and the share payable to a surviving spouse, then your husband and his brother might be entitled to something.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
    Oregon has laws concerning "intestacy" (no will). If your father-in-law was married when he passed away, and his children are not children of that marriage, then his spouse would inherit half of his estate, and his children would inherit half. If your father-in-law was not married when he passed away, then his children inherit all. Your husband should contact a probate lawyer and begin the administration of the estate.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Horn & Johnsen SC
    Horn & Johnsen SC | Dera L. Johnsen-Tracy
    Pursuant to Wisconsin Statute 852.01, when a person dies intestate, meaning without a will, the portion of his estate subject to probate (this excludes assets held in joint tenancy and assets with direct beneficiary designations) will be distributed to his heirs at law. If your father-in-law was married and shared all of his children with his wife, then the entire probate estate would pass to his wife. If he had a blended family, then essentially his wife would retain her one-half marital interest and the remainder of his probate estate would pass to his children, in equal shares, per stirpes. "Per stirpes" means that, if a child predeceased him, then that child's share would pass to his or her children, in equal shares. If you believe there are assets subject to probate, then it would be advisable for your husband to consult with a probate attorney in the state in which your father-in-law resided at the time of his death in order to determine whether it is necessary to initiate a probate proceeding.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C.
    O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C. | Sean P. O'Keefe
    Maryland decedents who die without wills need to follow the State's law for intestate (no will) estates. The children (your husband) in your scenario are entitled to inherit under MD law (assuming the Slayer's Rule does not apply), but inheriting anything depends on what assets, expenses, creditor claims, etc. there are. Other family members such as a spouse and parents may have an interest, too, but what rights the family members have to inherit depend on who survived your father-in-law.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    WARM SPRINGS LAW GROUP | Elliott D. Yug
    Yes, it is called the law of intestacy. Generally the assets pass to spouse and children depending on who survives. Best bet is to contact an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Slovak Baron & Empey, LLP | Valerie A. Powers Smith, Esq.
    The estate would be administered under the intestacy laws of the state. Either of his sons could petition the probate court to be appointed the administer of his estate, which would give them power to marshal his assets and ascertain heirs who stand to take under his estate. If he died unmarried, children are the next heirs in line to inherit.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Salladay Law Office | Lance Salladay
    It is distributed by what is called Intestate succession- each state has a statutory scheme by which estates are to be distributed if the decedent has no will you would need to check with your specific state.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Lowthorp, Richards, McMillan, Miller & Templeman | Cristian R. Arrieta
    It depends on whether he was survived by a spouse and how he held title to his assets.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Richard J Kaplan, PA
    Richard J Kaplan, PA | Richard J Kaplan
    If there is no Will, then distribution from a probate estate is subject to Florida's Intestacy Laws. The distribution depends upon whether there is a surviving spouse and/or children. In this case, it will be presumed there is no surviving spouse. Then the probated estate will be divided equally between the children of the father. If one of the children predeceased the father but that child had children of their own, then the predeceased child's children will get equally divide that parents share.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
    In Washington, we have a defined approach to probate an estate intestate, e.g., without a Will. Is your mother-in-law still living? She will be entitled to one-half of her husband's estate. The other one-half is equally shared between the children. If there is no surviving spouse, then the children would share equally in their father's whole estate.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Sebby Law Office
    Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
    Every state has laws to handle intestate (no will) situations. Many states direct that the estate is divided between the current legally-recognized spouse and any children of the deceased.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Edward L. Armstrong, P.C. | Edward L. Armstrong
    If there was no will, the heirs (in Missouri the heirs at law would be the decedent's spouse and his children living at the time of death) or one of them needs to request formally for the Probate court to open an estate. To do this the court will require you to retain an attorney. Your husband has one year from the date of his father's death to open an estate.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Law offices of Ron Webster | Ronald S. Webster
    Surprisingly, this occurs more often than you think. Florida Statute 732.101 sets forth the pattern of distribution for those individuals who pass away without a will. It is called intestate succession. Depending upon whether your father-in-law was married also plays a role in the formula for distributing his assets.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    Maybe. Need to know other details but he is a presumptive heir.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Law Offices of Ward F. McDonough, Jr. | Ward F. McDonough, Jr.
    Intestate. Likely have to go to court unless brothers held property jointly with there father. If no dispute, seek an amicable distribution.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Glojek Ltd | Joseph E. Redding
    If there is no Will, then the estate is governed by "intestate succession." Take a look at chapter 852 of the Wisconsin Statutes.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 8/20/2012
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