What Can An Executor Do If You Die Without A Will?

Posted by smith clea on August 9th, 2022

What can an executor do if you don’t have a will? 

An executor is someone named in your will to carry out your wishes. 

They’re granted the legal authority to act on your behalf after you die. 

But what happens if you don’t have a will?

The Probate Process

When someone dies without a will, their estate goes through the probate process. 

The first step is to file a petition with the court. 

Then, the court will appoint an executor. 

The executor's job is to gather the deceased person's assets, pay their debts, and distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries. 

The whole process can take months or even years, so it's important to choose an executor you trust. 

To ensure your wishes are fulfilled as best as possible, it's best to have a legal professional draw up your will beforehand. 

However, if you do not have a will then these are some options for what an executor can do:

  1. Divide assets among heirs according to state law
  2. Collect any money owed from debtors
  3. Sell property and belongings to cover any debts
  4. Pay off taxes
  5. File a tax return on behalf of the deceased
  6. Distribute any remaining assets to beneficiaries
  7. Arrange final arrangements such as burial, cremation, etc.
  8. Decide whether there should be a memorial service.
  9. Transfer guardianship of minor children to one guardian or split guardianship between two people
  10. Close bank accounts and/or change names on accounts

The Benefits Of Having A Trust

  1. A trust can help you avoid probate
  2. A trust can save your family money and stress
  3. A trust can help you keep your affairs private
  4. A trust can give you peace of mind knowing that your loved ones will be taken care of after you're gone
  5. A trust can provide for your loved ones if something happens to you.

An executor is a person designated by the individual or couple to oversee assets, debts, taxes, and other responsibilities of an estate. 

It's important to consider appointing an executor who will have no vested interest in the matter at hand.

When it comes time for someone without a will to pass away, a court will appoint an administrator as well as determine how property should be distributed among heirs if no children or spouses are living. 

If the deceased has a spouse but no children, then the surviving spouse inherits everything.

If there are one or more children, then they would receive everything with any remainder going to their issue.

If there is only one child with one child from another marriage (step-child), then half of the estate goes to each child. 

This includes any legacies made before death. 

The above notwithstanding, anything left over goes to parents and/or grandparents. 

However, if there are no parents or grandparents, the funds go to brothers and sisters. 

But what if there are none? 

The funds go to nieces and nephews.

About The Author

Clea Smith is a USA-based author on Legal issues related to estate planning, will & trust, business law, and elder law. Clea Smith does her best writing on these topics that help users to find the best solutions to their FAQ on estate planning attorney, probate, living trust vs will, and more about legal family issues.

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smith clea
Joined: February 6th, 2020
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