If There's No Will

What if you're the executor of an estate without a valid will?

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Don't worry if there isn't a valid will. It's a common occurrence, and the probate system is well-equipped to handle it. State law will tell you who inherits, who serves as administrator of the estate, and how assets can be transferred to their new owners.

Generally, everything goes to the closest relatives, and the surviving spouse or children are first in line to serve as personal representative of the estate. Charities, friends, and more distant relatives are out of luck, even if they're sure the deceased person did in fact want to leave them gifts of cash or specific items with sentimental value.

Serving as Executor? Nolo Can Help.

Find a local lawyer for advice or handle the estate yourself with nolo's award winning do-it-yourself legal books.

The Executor's Guide

The Executor's Guide

Settle an estate or trust with this all-in-one guide for executors. The Executor's Guide will help you make progress one step at a time through the unfamiliar land of legal procedures and terminology.

The Trustee's Legal Companion

The Trustee's Legal Companion

Learn the ins and outs of being a trustee with this guide for every trust administrator. The Trustee’s Legal Companion shows you exactly how to proceed within the terms of the trust and your state's law.

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