What if there is no will?

If the deceased did not leave a will, the court must first determine who the proper heirs of the deceased are.  This process is called “determination of heirship”.   The applicant, usually a family member, has to apply to the court and ask the court to make a ruling on who are the people that should inherit from the deceased.  The judge will then look to the intestacy laws to make a determination.  Once that is settled, the applicant may then ask to be appointed as the administrator of the estate in order to start distributing the assets to the heirs.  The applicant can ask to be an “independent administrator” if there is no need for the court’s oversight in administrating the estate, or to be a “dependent administrator” if the court’s oversight is needed. The choice of dependent versus independent administration is a complex one, and should only be made after careful consideration by an attorney who is knowledgeable in probate.