What Happens When Your Parent Dies Without a Will

The death of a parent is a very jarring experience. They’ve been a fixture in your life since the beginning and it’s difficult to say goodbye. Dealing with the death of a parent can be made more difficult if there is no will left behind. You need to know what your next steps are. 

Talk With an Estate Attorney 

The death of a parent is an emotional experience, but it also involves several legal matters. The assets need to be sorted out, debts need to be paid, and more. If your parents did not have a will, this can cause some complications. An estate attorney can talk you through the process and help you determine what needs to be done. They can tell you what options exist for an estate without a will and how things will proceed moving forward. The estate attorney can also answer any questions you have about all the legal matters. 

Go Through Probate Court 

Probate is the legal process of transferring assets and property from the deceased to any beneficiaries. Most people will have to go through this process when a loved one dies. Probate can be helpful when there is no will because the court can determine what happens to the assets. Fortunately, there are common rules followed that determine where most assets will go. If a beneficiary isn’t named on an account or in a will, the asset will transfer to the next of kin. This means that anything left behind will be left to the spouse, child, or closest relative.

Identify All Assets 

The process of going through probate is made easier when it’s clear what assets are at stake. After your parent dies, go through all of their possessions to determine what assets they had. Assets will include any property like a house. Some assets also include cars, jewelry, and other valuables. You will also need to account for all money your parents had, and this will likely be stocks, bonds, etc. Other assets can include intellectual property such as patents or copyrights that your parents owned. Your estate attorney can help you determine what all the assets are.


You want to carry out your parent’s final wishes, but this is difficult to do without a will. If you’re in this situation, don’t worry. There are several options you can choose to help you through the process.

Check out this article on why a trust isn’t just for the wealthy!