Q&A with Loraine: Mom Left No Will

Question: Can I skip probate court to sell my mother’s real estate property? She died without a Will.

Background: My mother passed a few months ago. She didn’t leave a Will, and my siblings and I would like to sell the property without having to go through the time-consuming probate court process. Instead, we are looking for an attorney to file a petition for letter of dispense of administration to file with the county so the judge can just sign off on it and let us sell the property.

Loraine’s Answer: If your mother was a Georgia resident who died without debts and if the heirs are all willing to agree, then yes, it might be possible for the heirs to file a Petition for No Administration Necessary and have her assets distributed to them without actually opening the estate for administration. However, this distribution does not allow you to skip probate court. You must still file the Petition with the probate court and the court has to rule on it. This process takes time.

If the heirs are not all willing to agree, or if your mother had significant debts, then a Petition for No Administration Necessary may not be an option. In this situation, the family will have to open the estate for administration. You should know that opening an estate for administration does not necessarily need to be a long process. It is often possible to wrap the entire estate up in a year or so in uncomplicated estates, even with a full administration. In addition, once the Administrator has been appointed, the Administrator can sell the property before the estate has been fully administered- the family does not have to wait for the estate administration to be completed before selling the property.

In order to find a probate attorney near the area where your mother’s principal residence was located, start the interview process by making calls to several attorneys to set up probate consultations. Then get a consultation. That’s the only way that any probate attorney will be able to actually identify your family’s options.

Best wishes to your family, and please accept my condolences on the loss of your mother.

Key Estate Planning Takeaway: While a Petition for No Administration Necessary can allow a deceased person’s assets to be distributed without opening the estate for administration, executors and families of the deceased should first consult a Probate Attorney before deciding to pursue a legal course of action. Only after reviewing all the situation-specific details of the estate, can a Probate Attorney lay out for the executor and family all of the options available to them.

This “Q&A with Loraine” blog series features answers from Morgan + DiSalvo Partner Loraine DiSalvo to questions posted on www.avvo.com. A key takeaway from each exchange highlights an important facet of estate planning.

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