If a loved one dies without a will, the estate will go through a process called administration. The court will step in to handle important aspects, such as appointing someone to be in charge of distributing assets.
You can file for administration if you are the closest relative of the deceased. But you only need to do so if the person owned assets other than real property.
If you are the closest relative, you will file for administration with the court. You must provide the death certificate and funeral bill when filing the Petition for Letters of Administration. The court may also ask you to file additional information, such as debts and assets lists. You must file in the county where the deceased person lived. There is also a fee for filing.
The court will choose someone to ensure the assets of the estate go to the proper heirs. The court will also provide notices to all decedent’s distributees, which is the legal name for heirs, that allows them to know the court’s involvement in the matter. It is a way to let them know the court is now handling all aspects of the estate and has authority over the assets of the estate.
Do note that administration is not mandatory as there may be other options. Even without a will, heirs can file a probate proceeding or a small estate proceeding, depending on the value of the estate.
Having at least a will is incredibly helpful to heirs after a death. Otherwise, the state has a lot of power in determining what will happen with assets and decision-making about estate matters.