My loved one did not leave behind a will. What do I do?

If no will has been left behind, an administrator of the deceased’s estate will need to be appointed to disburse the assets of the estate and to pay any outstanding debts (such as taxes, bills, loans). The appointed administrator will be selected in the following order (assuming the potential administrator is competent and is at least 18 years old):

  • surviving spouse;
  • children;
  • grandchildren;
  • parents;
  • brothers or sisters; or
  • any other distributee (heir).

The proposed administrator must file a Petition for Letters of Administration in the appropriate Surrogate’s Court along with a death certificate. Similar to the Petition for Probate and Letters Testamentary, this Petition lists pertinent information about the deceased and his or her family, and the decedent’s assets and debts.

Once the Letters of Administration have been granted by the Surrogate’s Court, the administrator of the estate has the authority to and may begin to administer and settle the estate.

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