We searched everywhere but can’t find my Mom’s Will. Now what do we do?


If your Mom’s will cannot be found after a reasonably diligent search she will be considered to have died intestate. The first step is for someone (usually one or more of the children) to commence a probate for your Mom and ask to be appointed as Personal Representative. All of your Mom’s heirs at law will be notified about this. Unless someone objects, the petitioner is usually appointed. From this point on it operates just like a probate where there is a Will. Administrative expenses need to be paid and the creditors need to be notified.

Unlike with a will, where there can be many interesting and unique patterns, with an intestate administration the heirs and the amount they each get will be determined by statute. If there is a surviving spouse and all of the children are with that spouse, he or she will get everything. If there is no surviving spouse, the children will inherit equally. What gets very complicated is second marriage situations where each spouse has children. If this is your situation you are well advised to retain an experienced estate planning attorney.