Posted by Sara Doty | Jan 10, 2024 | 0 Comments

If your parents died without a Will, it is challenging to know how to divide their property and assets legally. When there is a death without a Will, it is known as dying “intestate.” If this is your situation, Alabama state laws dictate how assets are to be distributed. Below are the steps to take and the legal processes involved when handling your parent's property if they pass away without a Will.

1. Identify the Heirs and Assets

First, you must identify their heirs and take inventory of the assets. Heirs typically include surviving spouses, children, or other close family members. Compile a comprehensive list of assets, such as real estate, bank accounts, investments, personal belongings, and any outstanding debts.

2. Contact an Attorney

Death without a Will requires following certain laws. Dealing with the probate process and intestate succession laws can be complex. Therefore, it is advisable to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney. An attorney will provide valuable guidance, helping you navigate the legal requirements correctly.

3. Probate Court Proceedings

In most cases, when a person dies intestate, the estate will go through a probate court proceeding. Probate is the legal process of validating the deceased person's Will (if one exists) or overseeing the distribution of their assets without a Will. An administrator will be appointed to manage the estate.

4. Administrator Appointment

The probate court will typically appoint an administrator, often a family member can manage your parent's assets. The administrator's responsibilities include paying off outstanding debts, taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to the heirs according to state law. In the State of Alabama, an administrator must be an Alabama resident in order to serve as administrator. The administrator will also need to be bonded. Your attorney can help you with obtaining a bond.

5. Asset Distribution

Assets are distributed according to a predetermined order of priority. Surviving spouses and children are often the first in line to inherit. If a person has no surviving spouse or children, the line of succession will extend to grandchildren, parents, or siblings.

6. Debts and Taxes

One of the critical tasks of the administrator is to handle any outstanding debts and taxes of the deceased. Funeral expenses and claims against the estate must be paid before the remaining assets can be distributed to the heirs. The administrator will work with creditors and tax authorities to resolve these matters.

7. Property Appraisal

To accurately distribute assets, the administrator may need to appraise and value the property. This is essential for determining the estate's overall worth and how it should be divided among the heirs.

8. Dealing with Real Estate

If your parents owned real estate, the administrator would be responsible for transferring ownership to the rightful heirs or selling the property and distributing the proceeds accordingly. The probate court must preapprove all real estate sales and transfers.

9. Court Approval

Once all debts have been settled and assets have been distributed, the administrator will submit a final report to the probate court. The court will review the report and, if satisfied, grant approval for closing the estate.

10. Final Distribution

After receiving court approval, the administrator can distribute any remaining assets to the heirs. It is crucial to keep thorough records of all transactions and distribution to avoid potential disputes among family members.

About the Author

Sara Doty

SARA JONES DOTY Sole Practitioner Location :Huntsville, Alabama Phone:256-519-9970 Fax : 256-519-9952 Email : Email Me Sara is passionate about helping families plan for the future and protect what is most important to them. This includes implementing estate plans, as well as assisting clie...


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