When a loved one passes away unexpectedly, it can be a shocking, emotionally intense, and confusing time. The confusion may stem from figuring out what happens next. When it comes to figuring out who has legal rights to a deceased person’s property, it is not as straightforward as one may think. According to a recent CNBC news report, two-thirds of adults living in the United States have no will. On the one hand, different states have different laws when it comes to will and estate planning. In addition, after a loved one passes without a will, it can cause intense complications between family members and potential heirs because of varying goals.
The probate court is a section of the court system that oversees the execution of wills and the handling of estates, conservatorships, and guardianships. In an intestate situation or a situation where someone has died without a will, the matter will likely be handled in probate court. If a person passes away without a will or intestate, the probate court decides who gets the deceased person’s property, although it is up to the survivors to claim their right to the property. When there is no will in place, you can never be sure how a court will decide to distribute the deceased person’s property.
In an intestate situation, the probate court appoints an executor for the estate. This executor will follow the laws of the state where the deceased person lived. This process may involve identifying the kinship of the deceased and may cause the children to have the burden of proving that they are the offspring of the deceased. The family members also will need to locate the records of the deceased, including proof of residency, amongst other records. The process can take a lot of time.
In addition, the probate court may also consider addiction issues that can impact inheritance. Child custody is also a big consideration because without a will, if the deceased person had custody of minor children, the court would be left to choose a guardian to care for them and a conservator to oversee their assets. In many situations, friends, acquaintances, and other family members may also ask for something from the deceased’s property. Having a will in place can prevent loved ones from being burdened with having to figure out what the deceased person would have wanted. Because the death of a loved one is already a stressful, traumatic, and emotional time, having a will in place today can play a huge role in alleviating the additional stress for loved ones.
What to do if a Loved One Dies Without a Will
If a loved one dies intestate or without a will, in addition to getting in contact with a funeral home, it is important to ensure that the deceased person’s home is secured and that any mail is forwarded. It is also important to gather any legal documents. Such as a deed to their home or other important documents. Additionally, calling the proper county court to fill out the required forms and to better understand the wills and estate process is important. However, it can be especially important to connect with an experienced probate attorney who can help you figure out how to manage the process and how certain types of assets should be distributed.
Connect with a Colorado Estate Planning Attorney Today
Planning for what comes next is never easy, but having a will in place can save your loved ones from suffering through months of conflicts and administrative hassle. Having a team of professionals on your side can make the process go smoothly and ensure there are no surprises. Braverman Law Group is here to help clients with will and estate planning at any stage of the process. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our trusted attorneys, give us a call today at (303) 800-1588.