Q&A with Loraine: My Husband Passed Away Without a Will. I Filed Probate Paperwork to be the Administrator.

Question: My husband passed away without a Will. I filed probate paperwork to be the administrator. 

I was told when I filed the paperwork, I only needed to list myself as his legal wife and his four daughters as heirs. Now I am being told I should have added his mother, half-brother, and deceased father. Did I file incorrectly and what should I do? 

Loraine’s Answer: Generally, if your husband’s principal residence was in Georgia, he had no Will, and he was both legally married and had children who were legally recognized as his, the only heirs to be listed on a Petition for Letters of Administration would normally be the surviving spouse and children. You would not normally have to list either his parents or any of his siblings on the Petition. You may not have received good advice from the person who told you that you needed to add those other family members. 

The best possible thing you can do is to hire an experienced probate attorney to help you with the estate. The attorney can help you decide whether a Petition for Letters of Administration or a Petition for Year’s Support (or both) is the best option. He or she can help you prepare the Petition correctly and answer the other questions and tasks that come up in estate administration. 

Key Estate Planning Takeaway: When a person dies without a Will in Georgia, only that person’s heirs, as determined by state law, should be listed on a Petition for Letters of Administration. For a married person who is survived by all of that person’s children, the only heirs will be that person’s surviving spouse and children.

This “Q&A with Loraine” blog series features answers based on responses 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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