The Death of an Adult Child

The loss of a child is never easy for the parents who have to bury them.  However, the pain of this loss can be compounded if the adult child does not have a will.  A will provides direction to those left behind for how all of the loose ends should be tied up.  What happens if there isn’t a will?

If there isn’t a will the state statutes direct distribution of the estate.  The statutes also dictate who has standing to file for probate.  In some situations this is adequate to deal with all of the issues.  What if the facts are not neat and clean?  What if the family is not in contact or getting along?

Recently a mother lost her unmarried adult son.  Although unmarried the son was living with his fiance.  The son’s father had been out of the picture for years. These facts muddy the water and can result in both difficulties but a distribution that is inconsistent with the wishes of the son.

The fiance in this scenario has no legal standing for probate or to receive any of the property from the estate.  If she and the son have purchased items together then she must prove the item is co-owned.  If  she can then she will retain partial ownership rights.  How smoothly this process goes will depend largely on how well she and the family (in this case the mother) get along.  The son might have wanted specific items to go to her or wanted her to inherit everything.  A will would have accomplished that goal

In this scenario the mother and father would each inherit one half of the son’s estate and have equal standing for probate.  To proceed with probate the father would have to recieve notice of the proceeding.  Since he has been out of the picture, it may be difficult, time consuming and expensive to find him for notice or appropriate use of an alternate notice method.  It is unlikely the son would have wanted the father to inherit anything.  A will would have accomplished that goal.