If your mother died without a Will, her probate estate will pass to her heirs under the laws of intestacy, which are default rules specific to each state. Stick around for a response from an Illinois attorney. In order to help them outline how your mother's estate passes, some more information might be useful. An Illinois attorney would need to know if your mother was married, or had any other children.
Beyond this, you might or might not be aware of how title to the house was held. How long had your niece been living with your mother? Long enough that your mother might have shared or transferred her interest in the home to your niece?
Assuming that your niece has no interest in the home, a personal representative needs to be appointed for the estate. One of many jobs on their list of tasks would be removal from the property of anyone that has no interest in it or right to occupy it. To begin to bring this matter toward a conclusion, I strongly encourage you to contact an attorney that practices in the area where your mother resided. This site contains many good referrals, or the local bar association might put you in touch with an experienced probate attorney.
This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted to practice law in the State of Texas only, and make no attempt to opine on matters of law that are not relevant to Texas. This answer is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation, and is for promotional purposes only. You should never rely on this answer alone and nothing in these communications creates an attorney-client relationship.
No one can act for an estate unless the have been appointed by the court as an administrator, where there is no will. Generally, the administrator is determined by who is the closest living survivor and is laid out by statute in most states. If she had no spouse, you may be first in line, but this is why you need to employ IL estate counsel. Once you are appointed, you can then have the niece removed from the property if warranted and required.
As far as who gets what, when a person dies without a will, the laws of intestate succession of the state in which they were living at the time of their death controls the disposition of the assets of the estate. Once again you need to retain IL estate counsel to help you here.
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I am sorry to hear of this tragedy. I know that addressing and closing issues of the estate would likely help in eventually having more comfort and being able to put things to rest.
When there is not a will, there is not a specific "executor." Interested parties have a right to seek to appoint an "administrator." There is a priority to be followed in who has the right to do so. If more than one person with the same priority petitions for an appointment, then a judge will decide whose choice is best. In a contested situation, the judge may feel that an uninterested party would be best suited.
The administrator should then take possession of the property and administer it as part of the estate. As a child, unless your mother was married, you, along with any other children, would have priority to appoint an administrator.
Please feel free to follow up by E-mail. Was there equity in the home? Has anyone seen to expenses of the home such as loan payments, property taxes and insurance? You need to act now.
The scope of this space does not afford an opportunity to adequately advise you. The response provided is intended to be informative, but not final. You are advised to arrange a consultation at which all facts and documents can be explored and terms for representation agreed. An attorney-client relationship must be formally established.
There is no executor if there was no will. Youcan find out if an adminstrator was apointed byy contacting the couurt where your mother died or youcan apply ypour self tobe adminstrator. whether the noiecce's occcupamncy is legal,most likely depends on whether ornot her name is on the ded and how it was titled. if the niece and your mother owned the home jointtnats with rightt of surviousxrship, thenyes it is legal, thwe presence or asbsence of a willhas no bearing on this. I wouold first check whereever deds are recorded.
Sonya Mittelman is aNew York attorney and hence her answers ar ebased on New Yotrk Law. Please seek advice from acompetant attorney in youru own state