What happens if someone dies without a will? 7 Answers as of May 18, 2011

My aunt died. She has no children. Her only living relative is her sister who she hasn't spoken to in over 20 years. She thinks she's in charge. There is no will. Who is in charge?

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Apple Law Firm PLLC
Apple Law Firm PLLC | David Goldman
The person who is in charge is who is appointed by the court to do a Probate. It sounds like, unless disqualified or she refused to serve, she would be appointed by the court to serve, since she is the beneficiary from what you have stated.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 5/18/2011
Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
If someone dies without a Will, it's called dying "Intestate" and the estate of that person then goes to parents, siblings, aunt/uncles, cousins. The person who will be in charge is whoever the Surrogates Court appoints as Administrator of the Estate, and that usually is the person who files for the Administration. In this case, the Sister of the deceased will likely be named and receive the majority, if not all, of the estate. If you want to contest that outcome, you must challenge it in Surrogates Court or file yourself for an Administration proceeding to force the Sister to come into court and be bound by its decisions. Good luck.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 5/18/2011
Law Offices of Timothy G. Kearney, LLC
Law Offices of Timothy G. Kearney, LLC | Timothy G. Kearney
The assets will pass by the laws of intestacy. Generally any interested party can petition the court for administration. The court will appoint an individual (usually a relative) to handle the estates matters and distribute the assets. If the court cannot find someone who is willing to take on the position, or feels there is some dispute between heirs/parties, it may appoint an independent administrator, usually an attorney.
Answer Applies to: Connecticut
Replied: 5/18/2011
Law Offices of Brian Chew
Law Offices of Brian Chew | Brian Chew
In cases where there is no will, a probate will need to open and the court will approve a person to be the executor of the estate. Assuming there are no living spouse, children or parents, then any surviving siblings would inherit her estate (laws of intestacy). If she only has one living sister, in all likelihood, the probate court would put her in charge since she is the one who would receive the assets.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/17/2011
The Schreiber Law Firm
The Schreiber Law Firm | Jeffrey D. Schreiber
By the laws of intestacy (state laws that control what happens when someone dies without a will) in most states, given the relatives you have named, it would the sister as the sole heir.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/17/2011
    Meyer & Yee, LLP
    Meyer & Yee, LLP | Kent W. Meyer
    No one yet. She died intestate and the state law of intestate succession applies. You may have to go through probate to have an administrator appointed. If the estate is small another process could be used.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/17/2011
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