Attorney for Wills

Attorney for Wills

If you die without a will, it means you have died “intestate.” When this happens, the intestacy laws of the state where you reside will determine how your property is distributed upon your death. This includes any bank accounts, securities, real estate, and other assets you own at the time of death. Real estate owned in a different state than where you resided will be handled under the intestacy laws of the state where the property is located.

The laws of intestate succession vary greatly depending on whether you were single or married, or had children. In most cases, your property is distributed in split shares to your “heirs,” which could include your surviving spouse, siblings, aunts and uncles, nieces, nephews, and distant relatives. Generally, when no relatives can be found, the entire estate goes to the state.

No Will – Single With No Children

If you are single and childless, your parents will receive your entire estate if they are both living. Otherwise it will be divided among your siblings (including half-siblings) and your surviving parent, if one parent has already died.
If you have no surviving parents at the time of your death, then your entire estate will be divided among siblings, in equal parts.
If there are no surviving parents, siblings, or descendant’s of siblings (nieces and nephews), then the relatives on your mother’s side would inherit one-half of the estate, with the other one-half passing to the relatives on your father’s side.

Dying With No Will – Single With Children

If you are single and have children, then your entire estate generally will go to your children, in equal shares. If any child has died before you, and that child has any children, then his or her share will go to your grandchildren.

Married With No Children and No Will

Depending on how your assets are owned when you die, your estate will either go entirely to your surviving spouse (if community property), or split between your surviving spouse, siblings and parents (if separate property).

No Will and Married With Children

If you are married with children, your entire estate will go to your surviving spouse (if all children are the children of your surviving spouse). Otherwise, your surviving spouse will receive up to one-half of the estate, with the remaining portion passing to your surviving children from another spouse or partner.

Passing Away With No Will for Unmarried Couples

Dying without a will can be devastating to unmarried couples who are living together. Because intestacy laws only recognize relatives, unmarried couples do not inherit the property of the other partner when one partner dies without a will. Unless there is a will which clearly states a person’s intentions when they die, the decedent’s property will be divided among relatives, depending on their relation to the decedent.

Domestic Partners With No Will

Special rules apply to domestic partners. Since not all states recognize domestic partnerships, it is important to check the laws of your particular state to learn how property is distributed upon your death. Generally, if you die without a will and are survived by a domestic partner, your domestic partner inherits the same as a surviving spouse, depending on how you owned the property.

Free Consultation with a Utah Estate Lawyer

When you need legal help with a will, probate or estate, please call Ascent Law for your free estate law consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506
Ascent Law LLC
4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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Probate Law in Utah is a vast subject and your will has an important function beyond providing instructions for the distribution of your property. It also names the person who will serve as the executor your estate. The executor has the job of paying your final bills, and distributing any remaining assets. We’ve brushed up against this topic before here.

When someone dies without a will, it’s called dying “intestate.” In these situations, no one may have legal authority to close the deceased’s estate. Probate court can step in to select someone to perform these duties or a loved-one can volunteer to fill the vacancy. This court-appointed representative is known as an administrator. The duties performed by an administrator are essentially the same as an executor.

These basic steps will show you how to file for executor of an estate without a will:

Determine Your Priority for Appointment

Probate rules are established by your state and include identifying who can serve as an administrator and the priority of appointment. A surviving spouse usually is given first choice at filling this role. If they decline, the deceased’s children are next in line. When there is no spouse or children, a family members may be selected. If more than one person with priority wants to serve as administrator, and the heirs can’t agree, then the court will choose.

Many states have laws prohibiting certain classes of people from serving as an administrator / executor. In Texas, for example, a person who is a non-resident can’t be appointed. Neither can someone found guilty of a felony, even if it occurred 30 years prior. In some states, when no family member has come forward to administer the estate, then a creditor of the deceased may serve as administrator.

Receive Written Waivers From Other Candidates

You need to receive a written waiver from other candidates for administrator that have higher priority. For example, if you are the brother of the deceased, you may need to get a written waiver from the deceased’s spouse and children before you can be appointed administrator.

Contact Court in the County Where Deceased Resided

In most states, probate will occur in the county where the deceased had residence. You need to contact that court to understand their filing requirements and timelines. Frequently you will need to file a Petition for Probate along with the Notice of Petition to Administer Estate.

File the Petition for Administration

The Petition will require you to supply a certified copy of the decedent’s death certificate, an estimate of the gross value of the estate, and the names and addresses of the decedent’s heirs. You will pay a fee to petition for administration.

Attend the Probate Hearing

Many states do not require a formal hearing unless there is a contest to select the administrator, or the administrator in not next of kin. Administrators and executors are commonly given an oath recognizing their fiduciary duties to the estate and the court.

Secure a Probate Bond

It is common court practice to require a bond to protect the interest of the deceased’s estate, its heirs and creditors. The bond also protects the administrator to ensure they fulfill their duties and responsibilities.

Free Consultation with a Utah Probate Lawyer

If you are here, you probably have a business law issue you need help with, call Ascent Law for your free estate law consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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