Tag: Relative

What Happens When a Relative Dies Without a Will?

When a relative dies without a will, your family may not know what to do. Problems you may encounter include how to deal with funeral expenses, how to cover immediate bills, and what to do about the estate.

No Will? The Estate Needs a Representative

If you and your family cannot find your relative’s will, and there are bills to pay or assets to distribute, you may need help from the court. The probate court can appoint an estate representative to manage and distribute the deceased relative’s estate.

Note that you should not spend your deceased relative’s money until the court appoints the representative. While your family may want to use the money for a funeral or to pay bills, you should wait even if it means delaying the funeral. To make sure the deceased person’s assets stay in good repair and are distributed to the right people, you need to seek legal help as soon as possible after the death.

If There’s No Will, Who Gets the Assets?

Once the court appoints a representative, he or she will begin gathering assets and identifying heirs. The representative is also in charge of managing the deceased person’s money and property, including paying for the funeral and bills. The court provides some minimal supervision, such as requiring the representative to submit an estate inventory and accounting.

Since there is no will, the law of intestate succession will apply. This law explains who receives the estate assets and in which order. Any living spouses or children will inherit the bulk of the estate. If a spouse or children have died before the relative did, then more distant relatives such as parents or grandchildren could inherit. The intestate succession law in Illinois is very complicated, so the personal representative may need a lawyer’s help to interpret it.

Also, the estate may need to pay debts before the representative makes the final distribution to heirs. Many creditors have priority over estate funds, so they get paid first with anything left over going to heirs later. As a result, inheritances from people with many debts and few assets could be smaller than expected.

Finally, the lack of a will can create legal disputes among relatives about distribution of property. It is especially important to seek legal help as soon as you realize that there is no will. Having a lawyer for the estate can head off arguments before they begin.

Want to start planning your estate? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

What Should You Do If Your Relative Chose You as His Executor?

Not long ago, your relative told you that he chose you as the executor of his estate. You are not sure what being an executor means, and you don’t know what your responsibilities are. Now, your relative has sadly  passed away. What should you do?

  1. Making Funeral Arrangements

Since you believe that you are the executor of your relative’s estate, you may need to take charge of making funeral arrangements. Talk to other family members and find out if your relative left a document explaining his funeral and burial wishes. This may be a separate document or part of a will or power of attorney. Follow those wishes if you can. If you cannot locate anything, ask your family what they think your relative might have wanted and take their suggestions into consideration.

  1. Look for the Will and Other Important Documents

You also need to find the will and other important documents concerning your relative’s estate. In particular, you need to confirm that you are listed as the executor in the will. The will may be in your relative’s house, with a trusted person like a lawyer or financial advisor, or locked up in a safe or safe deposit box. Getting access to the will could take some time and even require a court order. If you are having trouble finding it, you may want to speak to a lawyer to learn more about your obligations and duties.

  1. What to Do with the Will

When you find a will, you may need to submit it to the probate court. In some cases, when an estate has a lower value, you do not need court help to distribute the estate. Figuring out whether the probate court needs to get involved usually involves assessing the estate’s overall value, which might require professional help.

If you need to go to court, locate a lawyer who can assist with filing court forms and appearing before the judge. If you do not need to go to court, you will still need to do some paperwork. Executors have to gather all estate assets, figure out how much they are worth, locate heirs, and distribute the assets to the heirs according to the will. This process can take months or years depending on the estate’s complexity. Once the estate is completely distributed and taxes are filed properly, the executor’s job is done.

Appointed executor of an estate and need legal advice? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

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