What Happens When a Person Dies Without a Will?

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Sean Michael Peoples, partner at Brown Paindiris & Scott, LLP

The estate of a person who dies without a will is called "intestate." If a person dies without a will, an interested person, usually a surviving spouse or child, may apply to the Probate Court for the administration of the deceased person's estate and the appointment of an administrator. The administrator must locate the deceased person's assets and pay the deceased person's taxes and other remaining debts. The Probate Court will then distribute the assets in accordance with the intestacy laws of Connecticut, which typically provide that a surviving spouse and children (or even the parents of the deceased!) inherit in some combination, and if no surviving spouse, children or parents, then siblings and more remote descendents will inherit from the decedent, regardless of his or her lifetime wishes.

For smaller estates that are $40,000 or less and do not include real estate, the procedure may be simplified, because an administrator need not be appointed. Rather than making an application to the Probate Court, an interested person, usually the surviving spouse or child may file a document known as an "affidavit in lieu of administration." If there are excess assets once the deceased person's debts are paid, the Probate Court may order the distribution of the remaining assets in accordance with the intestacy laws of Connecticut.

If you have any questions, please contact the Glastonbury-Hebron Probate Court, located at 2143 Main Street in Glastonbury. The Court's hours of operation are Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Tuesdays, 8:30 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. Telephone: (860) 652-7629.