Parent didn’t Create a Will and has Passed Away

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Parent didn’t Create a Will and has Passed Away

My father recently passed away but unfortunately never got around to creating a Will. All his assets are 100% paid for and since I am next of kin, what would be next steps regarding acquiring the following: house, car, bank accounts, investments, pension, social security, filing his taxes. Is there anything else that I might be missing?

Asked on November 29, 2018 under Estate Planning, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If there is no will, no surviving spouse (he was not married when he passed away), and no other children of his, you will inherit everything. However, you need to go through the probate process to do this, the first step of which is being appointed the personal representative or administrator of his estate (either term may be used), so you have legal authority over his assets and belongings. You will also have to, as excecutor, pay (from his assets--you do not have to pay out of pocket from your own money) any valid claims agaist his estate submitted by people or businesses to whom he owes money (e.g. if he owed money on a credit card, the card issuer could put in a claim). Contact the probate court: they can direct you to instructions and forms to apply to be appointed personal representative/administrator, provide information on who you have to provide "notice" to potential creditors that they can put in a claim (this is typically done by publishing in local newspapers), and how to go through the probate process.

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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