Locating a will of a deceased relative

The court pays any unpaid debts and death expenses first, and then follows the legal guidelines.

The rules vary depending on whether the deceased was married and had children, and whether the spouse and children are alive. If the intestate individual has no surviving spouse, children or grandchildren the estate is divided between various other relatives. Therefore, intestacy means that people who would never have been chosen to receive property may do so.

Additionally, state intestacy laws only recognize relatives, so close friends or charities that the deceased favored do not receive anything.


If no relatives are found, the estate goes to the government in its entirety. Intestacy also poses a heavy tax burden on estate assets. When made aware of the consequences of intestacy, most people prefer to leave instructions rather than subject their survivors and property to mandated division.

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Where some small estates are concerned, a will may not have to be probated. If the value of the assets in the estate is below a threshold established by state law, a short estate proceeding may avoid the probate process entirely.


The administration of estates is complex and varies quite a bit from individual to individual -- while dying without a will complicates matters even more. If you have any particular estate administration needs, an estate planning attorney will be able to explain the process and handle the details in order to serve your family's best interests.

Contact a qualified estate planning attorney to help you ensure that your loved ones are cared for and your wishes are honored. Find your Lawyer Explore Resources For Learn About the Law.

Finding a Will After Someone Dies

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Estate Administration: The Will After Death - FindLaw

For common names, a year of death is also useful. Wills are a legal document in which a person can give instructions on how their property should be distributed after they die, and naming executors to do this on their behalf. Probate documents are created by the Supreme Court to record how the will was verified and the estate ultimately distributed by the executors. Not there? Beta search off. Select Collection Website.

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What Should I Do with Points from a Deceased Relative?

The will names a still-living person as the executor of the estate, and that person is responsible for administering the estate. A will and last testament forms the foundation of an estate plan and is the key instrument used to ensure that the estate is settled in the manner desired. Any assets not already designated by a beneficiary, such as a life insurance policy or a qualified retirement plan , are not included as probate assets and pass directly to the beneficiaries. Specifically, a will and last testament instructs the court in the disposition of all assets, including who is to receive them and in what amount.

Addenda to the will, such as power of attorney or a medical directive, can direct the court on how to handle matters if a person becomes physically or mentally incapacitated. When a person dies without a valid will, he dies intestate , which means the state becomes the executor of the estate. Any blood relative can stake a claim to the estate.

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The court can even establish guardianship arrangements based on its determination as to the best interests of the children. Settlement of the estate is then subject to the state's intestate law. Estate Planning.


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