Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Loved One Passed Away Without A Will... Now What?

One purpose of an estate plan is to organize your affairs so that when you pass, your assets can be smoothly and easily transferred to your surviving heirs. When designed correctly, estate plans can be used to reduce taxation, avoid probate, arrange for your minor children to inherit your assets when they come of age, and serve a variety of other purposes. Unfortunately, some people do not get a chance to organize their estates before they pass away.


Experts estimate that approximately half of Americans don't have estate plans (or even simple wills) in place. No one wants to think about death, and many people put off the act of planning their estates because they assume that they have many more years before such documentation would become necessary. While the hope is for everyone to live long lives, sometimes it doesn't work out that way.

Passing Away "Intestate"

If your loved one has recently passed away without a will in place, organizing her affairs will likely be a long and complex process. O'Donnell Law Center may be able to help.

"Intestate" is the legal term used to refer to individuals who have died without a will in place. If this has happened to someone in your family, the intestate laws of the state she lives in will dictate to whom her assets will be passed. This will primarily depend on whether or not she was married and whether or not she had any children. 

Going Through Probate 

Missouri's probate laws are complex, and the probate process can take anywhere from several months to several years. Having an experienced Lake of the Ozarks probate attorney to guide you through the process can make a big difference.

If your loved one did not have a will nominating an executor, the court will appoint someone to fill this role. Surviving spouses commonly take on this responsibility, but if your loved one was single or if her spouse is unwilling/unable to fill the role, the court will appoint someone else. The executor (also called the Personal Representative) will have the following primary responsibilities:
  • Organize the decedent's assets
  • Estimate the value of the decedent's assets
  • Address the decedent's final bills, taxes and debts
  • Distribute the remaining assets to the heirs and/or beneficiaries
Family Issues That May Develop

A difficult aspect of dying intestate is the potential it creates for family disagreements. If your loved one did not have a will designating the distribution of assets, you may find yourself at odds with the other family members over who should inherit what or the value of certain assets. 

There is rarely an easy solution to these types of challenges. However, having a competent Camden County probate attorney to help can be a valuable resource during this difficult time.

O'Donnell Law Center May Be Able to Help

If you are in need of a probate attorney at the Lake of the Ozarks, we hope you'll consider scheduling a consultation with Deirdre O'Donnell at O'Donnell Law Center. Our team has experience working with:
  • Trust administration
  • Probating wills
  • Probating estates when there is no will
  • Guardianships
  • Conservatorships

For more information about how we may be able to assist you, visit us at www.ODonnellLawCenter.com or call 573-552-0317 to book your private consultation.


We Carry Your Burden ~ You Carry On With Life.

Disclaimer: No attorney-client relationship is created by the publication of this blog.


The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertising.

Phone: (573) 552-0317

O'Donnell Law Center, LLC
1026 Palisades Blvd. Suite 3
Osage Beach, MO  65065

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