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What happens when your parent dies without a last will?

| May 17, 2021 | Probate

Your family will have a lot to deal with when a parent passes always. Whether it is sudden or the result of a long-term illness, the death of a parent will affect everyone.

In addition to the grieving process, your family will have to handle the estate of your deceased parent. Estate administration will become substantially more difficult if your parent did not create a last will or if you are not able to locate one. What happens if your parent dies without a last will in Arizona?

Are you sure there is no last will?

Sometimes, people put important documents in secure locations without telling other family members. You may not know about their last will until you find it in a safety deposit box or in a wall safe in their home.

Before you claim that there is no last will, you will want to look carefully for one. Checking to see if your parent had an attorney and reaching out to that lawyer could also help you locate their last will. If you really can’t find one, then you will need to initiate intestate probate proceedings.

What will the courts do with the estate of someone with no last will?

The probate judge overseeing the estate administration of an individual with no last will or estate plan on record will apply state law to the assets in the estate. Arizona has clear rules regarding intestate succession that guide who receives which assets from the estate.

The marital status of the deceased party plays a big role in the outcome. If the deceased person has a surviving spouse, that spouse has the strongest claim to certain property.

In blended families where the surviving parent does not necessarily have a biological relationship with the children of the deceased parents, the surviving spouse will share the assets left behind with the children. Otherwise, the spouse will receive everything. If there is no surviving spouse, the children inherit the entire estate.

Intestate succession can often cause conflict, especially in blended families or in situations where one family member feels entitled to certain property. Whether you hope to act as the executor for the estate or simply want to protect your interest in your parent’s property, getting help with possibly contentious intestate probate issues can protect your interests.