What to do without a will?
October 8, 2008 10:37 AM   Subscribe

My friend's dad just died - without a will. The services are over, what are the next steps?

There was little estate, so her siblings were just going to divide it equally without a lawyer. They don't know what needs to be done after that. Any ideas? (They are in Louisiana, if that matters)
posted by TNOTGILL to Grab Bag (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
No matter what, they should have a lawyer. Perfectly sane an reasonable people war like alley cats over who gets the chair. They'll need one anyway if real estate or substantial assets ae involved.
posted by Ponderance at 10:42 AM on October 8, 2008

Get a lawyer.

The term for this (dying without a will) is known as intestate and states have different rules for how things are divided. In some states there are defaults percentages given based on your relationship (e.g. wife, ex-wife, living children, etc...)

I saw this link which gives a high level view for Louisiana (though I don't know the accuracy of it)

posted by bottlebrushtree at 10:59 AM on October 8, 2008

I'd seek out a lawyer the family knows, who will recommend the best practioner in your jurisdiction.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:05 AM on October 8, 2008

They don't know what needs to be done after that.

That's why they need a lawyer. Even if they want to divide things equally, even if they never argue even briefly about the division, they need a lawyer because they don't know how to (for instance) title the house, what taxes must be paid, which bills of the estate must be paid and in what priority, and all the other things that happen in the administration of an estate.
posted by crush-onastick at 11:11 AM on October 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

They definitely need an Estate Lawyer.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:00 PM on October 8, 2008

Thirded (or however many) on the need for an estate lawyer. Sounds like a simple probate, but in most states (IANAL) leaving no will means that the state probate court will decide how the estate is divided after any debts of the estate are paid. The state will serve as executor, who will gather all of the receipts (the assets and the liabilities), settle the debts of the estate (final medical bills, credit cards, etc). Doing this without legal representation can be done but will lead to headache, heartache, and leave the heirs open to litigation by creditors.

Here is a primer on the Louisiana regulations on intestate succession/distribution: http://www.finance.cch.com/pops/c50s10d190_LA.asp
posted by beelzbubba at 12:55 PM on October 8, 2008

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