My loved one passed away without a Will, what do I do?

Losing a loved one is an emotional and challenging experience, and the last thing on anyone’s mind during this time is the deceased’s Will. However, as much as we’d like to avoid these practical considerations, the reality is that there are often dependents and important matters that need to be addressed. 

But what if your loved one passed away without a Will? 

When a person passes away without a Will, it can create significant complexities in handling their estate. In such cases, there is no designated legal representative for the estate, and a family member often needs to seek a court appointment as the estate’s legal representative, following a specific order of appointment dictated by the law. This process can result in increased complexity and higher administrative costs, ultimately prolonging the estate’s settlement. Moreover, the proposed estate administrator may be required to provide a bond as security before the court approves their application.

The distribution of assets in cases of intestacy, where there is no Will, is determined by the Intestate Succession Act, 2019. Instead of the deceased person directing how their assets should be distributed, the law dictates the order of distribution based on the size of the deceased’s estate and their surviving family members.

Here are some common scenarios:

  • Surviving Spouse with No Children: If the deceased has a surviving spouse but no children, the surviving spouse is entitled to 100% of the estate.
  • Surviving Spouse with Children: When the deceased leaves a surviving spouse and all the children are also children of the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse will inherit the entire estate.
  • No Surviving Spouse, but Biological Children: If there is no surviving spouse but surviving biological children, the estate will be divided equally among the biological children.
  • Surviving Spouse with Non-Spouse’s Children (Estate Less than $200,000): In cases where the deceased leaves a surviving spouse but at least one child is not the child of the surviving spouse, and the estate’s value is less than $200,000, 100% of the estate goes to the surviving spouse.

These are just some of the potential scenarios that may apply when someone passes away without a Will. The intricacies of intestacy law can become quite complex. Therefore, it’s highly advisable for surviving family members to seek legal assistance from experienced professionals. 

While the absence of a Will can lead to a predetermined distribution of assets, the process can be intricate and cumbersome. Seeking legal counsel can help ensure a smoother and more efficient settlement of the deceased’s estate, providing clarity and support during a challenging time. At Gates Law, we understand the sensitivity of these situations and are here to provide the support and expertise needed to make this process as seamless and stress-free as possible. Contact us and get the help you need! 

Disclaimer: This Blog is intended to provide readers with general information. Each client’s circumstances and legal solutions might vary. For further details, please reach out to us to learn more.

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