Who is in charge of the estate of a father dies with no will? 15 Answers as of February 20, 2012

My father dies and there is no will. Two legal adult children. We have a live in girlfriend in control now with help of his sister.

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The Center for Elder Law
The Center for Elder Law | Don Rosenberg
Pursuant to statute if there is an administration of an intestate (without) will or testate (with a will) the priorities as to who would be the captain of the administration (personal representative). In an estate the children would have equal priority and therefore you and your sibling would have to decide who would be the personal representative or the court will determine. In a testate estate the will would name the personal representative.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 10/25/2011
Law Office of J. Brian Thomas
Law Office of J. Brian Thomas | J. Brian Thomas
Nobody is in charge unless and until the Court puts them in charge. You should run and not walk to a probate attorney near you immediately, as your inquiry raises some significant concerns. When a person dies without a Will in Texas, their property passes to their heirs. The list of heirs never includes live-in girlfriends, and based on your brief facts, the decedent's sister has no greater right to anything than the girlfriend. Do not permit this situation to continue. Doing so will only make it increasingly more difficult to advocate and enforce your rights.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 10/24/2011
Law Offices of Mendlovitz & Sanchez
Law Offices of Mendlovitz & Sanchez | James V Sanchez
A party may petition the court to open probate and become administrator if one has not been appointed. You may challenge an appointment if its already been made. The spouse or heirs will usually be convincing as priority for administration especially if they are all in agreement.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/24/2011
Ashman Law Office
Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
Either of the children can file. So unless they sat on their hands and refused to serve, either of them can serve, if they act in time.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 10/24/2011
Goldsmith & Guymon
Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
Whomever the Court appoints is in charge and has authority to act on behalf of an estate. No one is automatically in charge.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 10/24/2011
    The McDonnell Law Firm, PLLC
    The McDonnell Law Firm, PLLC | Patrick J. McDonnell
    If your father died intestate (without a will) and he wasn't married, his estate would be divided equally among his children. The court can appoint an administrator to oversee the estate distribution. I would contact a lawyer now to insure that none of his property is liquidated or transferred somewhere else.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/24/2011
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
    Either one of you could petition to start the administration of the estate. If the girlfriend has already been appointed, you'd have to petition to have her removed.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 10/24/2011
    Bullivant Houser Bailey PC
    Bullivant Houser Bailey PC | Darin Christensen
    If there is no will, Oregon law gives preference in appointing a personal representative to a surviving spouse (if any) and then to nearest of kin. Although nearest of kin is not defined, children generally are considered closer kin than a sister. If the estate is large enough and no probate has been opened, one or both of the children should hire a lawyer and file a petition for probate seeking appointment as personal representative.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 10/24/2011
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
    No one is actually in charge of the estate until appointed by a court. Any "interested party" can petition the court to probate an intestate estate. As part of that petition, it is customary to request that the court determine heirs and appoint a Personal Representative (Executor). Only upon appointment is this person "in charge of the estate". The live-in girlfriend would not be considered an heir and would not be given priority to act as Personal Representative. If there are issues as to ownership of property, such issues might determine whether there are probate assets justifying a probate action.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 10/24/2011
    The Law Offices of Laurie E. Ohall, P.A.
    The Law Offices of Laurie E. Ohall, P.A. | Laurie E. Ohall
    If a probate is being opened, and there is no spouse, a majority of the beneficiaries of the estate (which would be the children) would decide who is to be appointed the personal representative.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 10/24/2011
    The Schreiber Law Firm
    The Schreiber Law Firm | Jeffrey D. Schreiber
    No one legally is in charge. Since he left no will, he did not appoint anyone to be in charge. But there are other issues. What property did he have and does that require a probate to be filed in order to transfer ownership? For example if he had real property, no one can transfer title form his name to someone else as he is deceased and no one can sign his name to a deed. A Power Of Attorney terminates at his death, so that would not work either. The only way to transfer title is by a probate deed which requires a probate be opened. If he had no real property or other large assets, then whoever everyone agrees can do the work can get all of the transfers made. If you cannot agree, then a probate would have to be opened to appoint an administrator of the intestate estate.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/24/2011
    Law Offices of Brian Chew
    Law Offices of Brian Chew | Brian Chew
    The person/s in charge is whoever applies and is approved as executor of the estate by the probate court.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/24/2011
    Harville-Stein Law Offices, LLC
    Harville-Stein Law Offices, LLC | Dean D. Stein
    You need to get legal counsel. Generally, if she is not deemed to be a common-law-wife, the children will split everything 50/50. However, beneficiary designations he made on certain assets, and the deed to land, if joint with right of survivorship, will control disposition of those assets.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 10/24/2011
    Martinson & Beason, PC
    Martinson & Beason, PC | Douglas C Martinson II
    Whoever is appointed by the Probate Court. If your father wasn't married at the time of his death and didn't have a will, then any of his children who live in Alabama could apply to be the Administrator of the estate. That person would have to be bonded and file an inventory of the estate assets and a final settlement since there was no will.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 10/24/2011
    Broad Law Firm, LLC
    Broad Law Firm, LLC | Donald K. Broad
    In Indiana, if there is no will that names a Personal Representative ("person in charge") of the estate, then the Court appoints someone to fill that role. Usually it is a spouse, child, or some relative of the deceased, but it can be a live-in companion as well. I suggest that you contact an estate lawyer in your area to discuss how to request that the Court appoint a specific person as the Personal Representative of that estate.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 2/20/2012
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