How do you probate the estate of someone who died without a Will?

UPDATED: Sep 7, 2011

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How do you probate the estate of someone who died without a Will?

My brother passed away; he was single with no children; everything goes to my mother. He owned property in OH and SC (houses with mortgages), a 401k, Roth IRA, and life insurance. Where do I start?

Asked on September 7, 2011 under Estate Planning, Arizona


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  You have to file a petition in probate court to be appointed as the personal representative of his estate.  You file in the county in which he resided at the time of his death.  The proceeding is generally called an "Administration" and you would be appointed as the Administrator.  You will be given Letters Testamentary which will allow you act on behalf of the estate. Your job is to gather his assets and debt and to pay the debt from the assets,  As for the property in the other states, you have to file an ancillary proceeding in the probate court.  You may want to consider selling the mortgaged property to pay of that debt but that is a decision you need to make once everything is before you.  You should seek legal help.  Good luck.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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