When someone dies without a Will or spouse but leaves behind a minor child, who should be put in charge of their estate?

UPDATED: Jan 24, 2011

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When someone dies without a Will or spouse but leaves behind a minor child, who should be put in charge of their estate?

My minor grandson’s father just died in an auto accident. He had no spouse and no Will. His mother (my grandson’s other grandmother) has already taken control of his estate. Is this legal?


Asked on January 24, 2011 under Estate Planning, Ohio


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

When someone dies without a Will they are said to have died "intestate".  Accordingly the laws of the state in which they were domiciled as of the date of their death will control.  Typically a family member or close friend requests that the probate court appoint them as Personal Representative of the estate.  It's not clear whether or not your grandson's father's mother did in fact so this.  Accordingly, if she did she has every legal right to take control of the estate.  However, this does not means that your grandson is not entitled to inherit.  Under most state intestacy statutes, when a person dies without leacing a surviving spouse, there sole heirs are their children.

At this point, you may want to contact the probate court in the county where your son's father lived; they would have jurisdiction over the estate.  You can then find out if his mother has been appointed PR or, if not, who has.  You should also consult with a local probate attorney as to your grandson's inheritance rights and how best to protect them. 

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