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What happens when a person dies without a will?

After a loved one passes away, you may find yourself with more things to take care of than you anticipated. You may need to settle that persons estate, which can include things like closing accounts, selling the house and figuring out what is going to happen to his or her stuff. This is not an easy process, and it can be even more complicated if that person did not have a will.

When a person dies without having a will, state laws will determine what is going to happen to the estate. This is passing away intestate, which is passing away with no valid will. Even in the intestate process, you and other beneficiaries will have to go through the probate process to finalize the estate. If you are facing this process, you will find it beneficial to secure legal help as you try and protect your interests and those of the estate.

What happens next?

The probate court with jurisdiction over the estate will oversee the probate process. During this process, there will be hearings during which the court will look at certain things in order to determine how to divide and distribute estate assets. When there is no will, there is no designated person to oversee the probate process. In this situation, the court will appoint a person to act as administrator of the estate.

The representative or administrator of the estate will have several important responsibilities that he or she will have to oversee during probate. Some of these things include:

  • Collecting assets for probate
  • Determining the value of the estate
  • Handling any outstanding claims or disputes against the estate

In an intestate case, state laws will determine the identity of the heirs of the estate. Generally, these are spouses, children, grandchildren and other immediate family members. The probate court will hold a hearing before final approval of the distribution of assets to identified heirs.

Protecting your family and loved ones

When a loved one passes away without a will, you may wonder if there is any way to ensure that you and your family will get what is rightfully yours. While intestate cases and probate processes can be overwhelming, you do not have to walk through this alone.

You will find it beneficial to speak with an experienced Louisiana attorney who can help you understand what to expect and how you can protect the interests of your family from the very beginning of this process to its completion.