Legal Blog

The Weekly Scenario: Estate Planning Without A Will

Question: My dad mentioned to me that he would like me to have his house when he passes away. I have 3 other siblings and my dad doesn’t have a Will. If this is dad’s intention, what can I do?

Answer: When a person dies without a Will, there are certain complications that may arise because a person who does not have a Will is deemed to have died intestate (without a Will). Once an administrator is appointed by the court, since there is no Will to direct the administration of the estate, the deceased person’s property will be distributed to those beneficially entitled by law.

Generally speaking, the beneficiaries will include spouses, children, parents and siblings. An administrator’s powers would include both the ability to sell the house to satisfy the deceased person’s debts and the ability to distribute the proceeds from the sale of the house (or to distribute the property itself) to the estate’s beneficiaries. Even if there are no debts, clearly dad’s wishes regarding his house would not preclude the administrator from selling the house (if he thought this was the best course of action) in order to distribute the proceeds among the intestate heirs. While it may be possible to strike a deal among the estate’s beneficiaries for distribution of the house to you, there is no guarantee that a deal will be made to retain the house.

Bottom line, it is time for your Dad to get a Will prepared to ensure that his true intentions will be followed.



As always, if you have any questions or would like to learn more, please contact Steve Shane at or 301.575.0313.


Steve Shane Casual | 301.575.0313

Steve Shane provides strategic counseling to clients in need of estate administration, charitable giving and business continuity planning while minimizing estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax exposure. He offers legal guidance to clients on asset protection and the proper disposition of assets in accordance with the client’s objectives, while employing tax planning techniques such as the use of irrevocable trusts, life insurance planning, lifetime gifts and charitable trust. He is also experienced with drafting documents for business planning, the incorporation and application for exemption for Private Foundations and the administration of decedents’ estates.




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