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What your lawyer will need to know for probate if there is no Will

Probate Checklist if there is no Will

Dealing with someone’s affairs when they have died

The following checklist will be helpful to prepare for your first appointment with a lawyer who is working with you to administer an estate when there is no Will.

They might ask you for some other things, but this is a good start point:

  1. Full name, address, and date of birth of the deceased.
  2. Date of death and copy of the death certificate.
  3. Full details of all family members of the deceased. It is helpful if you can draw up a family tree.
  4. Names, addresses and contact details of the family members.
  5. Details of the deceased's assets which could include things like house, bank accounts, shares and other investments.
  6. Details of any debts the deceased may have such as Credit cards.
  7. Funeral expenses.
  8. What property, such as a house, is jointly owned with someone else.
  9. Details of the deceased's income such as pensions or dividends.

It is worth getting what paperwork you can together on all of this before you speak to the lawyer so that you can, for example, give a good idea of what bank accounts there are and how much is in them. But do not delay in instructing a lawyer while you do that because much of it will be obtained during the probate process. The first discussion with the lawyer is just to give them the basic details and an idea of the estate.

The family tree is particularly helpful when there is no will because the deceased's assets still must be distributed under the authority of Letters of Administration that the lawyer can obtain. But the estate must be distributed to certain family members following strict legal rules known as the rules of Intestacy. To apply those it is important to know about all family members, including those who may have lost touch with each other.