My fiancée died unexpectedly in September and he did not have a will. He has one adult daughter. She wants to wait for at least 5 years before doing anything and leave everything as it is as if he’s still living. He owns a home and land. Can she legally wait that long? I was given the funeral bill & I feel like that should be paid out of his estate. I know I’m not entitled to anything since we were not married. We lived together for 10 years. I have already moved out of the house.
I am sincerely moved by your loss, and hope that 2020 will bring you healing and peace of mind about your fiance's recent passing. As to the legalities, there is no strict time limit in which to initiate probate, but doing so sooner rather than later is in the best interests of your fiance's heirs, for a few reasons. First, if your fiance left behind assets, probate may be necessary to transfer them to the heirs, before the heirs can partake of them in the same way that your fiance could while he lived. Second, if your fiance left behind any debts or obligations of consequence, any creditor of his can step forward and open probate if it finds that no one else is moving on this, in order to be paid from whatever assets are around to be sold (or in the case of cash, to be distributed). I strongly recommend that your fiance's daughter consult with a probate lawyer to get a better picture of his assets and liabilities. Third, if your fiance left behind bank accounts, his heirs will not be able to access them without either Letters of Administration or an Affidavit of Collection from the Clerk of Superior Court; not qualifying as a personal representative of the estate in your fiance's name will further delay the time in which his heirs can possibly receive distributions from the estate, assuming there are net assets once his financial affairs are first concluded. The real property likely has already vested in the name of his heirs by simple virtue of his passing without a will, but if creditors remain unpaid, it is possible that a creditor could petition the Clerk for the property to be sold in order to pay such obligations. Doing nothing for several years is the worst possible strategy, and puts your fiance's heirs under the control of events, instead of the other way around. The sooner the heirs seek legal advice after an interim period of mourning, the better this situation will be for everyone. God bless all of you in the wake of your loved one's passing.
If you have actually paid the funeral bill, then you're a creditor of the estate and you can force the administration of the Estate. However, if you've simply been presented with the bill and feel it should be paid, then pass it along to the daughter and go about your life. In that instance the funeral home is the creditor and they can take actions to force the administration of the estate.
Disclaimer - The information provided above is intended to be informational in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. No attorney-client relationship has been entered into as a result of this information being provided and you are not represented by this attorney.
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