How Can I Make a Claim on My Father's Estate When He Died Without a Will?

When someone dies, dealing with the items, debts and property they leave behind can be overwhelming, both emotionally and financially. If your parent dies without a will, it is important that someone step in and adminster the estate. If you have something in particular that you would like, make sure to let that desire known to anyone else who might be interested to avoid disputes later on.

File a request with the probate court in the county in which your father was a resident to appoint an administrator of the estate. Obtain the proper paperwork by calling or visiting the courthouse. If your father's spouse is living, the administrator will likely be that person unless she asks someone else in the family or close to it to assume the responsibility. If not, the court may appoint you or another blood relative who is a resident of the state.

Find out what your state's established line of descent and distribution is. Most states have a specific line of descent where the surviving spouse receives the entire estate if there are no children. If there are children, the line of descent and distribution still favors the spouse and provides for children after.

Let the administrator of the estate know what items or property you are interested in taking. In most cases, the estate is divided up equally between the children of the deceased after debts have been paid.

Settle disputes by purchasing the item or property you want outright, reduced by the percentage you are given. For example, if you want to keep a piece of lake property but your siblings want to sell it, offer to purchase it, minus your share.

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About the Author

Michelle Hogan is a writer and the author of 13 books including the 2005 bestselling memoir, "Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (With Kids) in America." Hogan studied English at American University and has been writing professionally since 1998. Her work has appeared in "The New York Times," "Redbook," "Family Circle" and many other publications.