There is a priority list for who may start a probate action. If there is no husband or children, you are likely next in line and can do it. It is an 8-12 month process with some significant costs for filing, bond, publication, etc. I would suggest you get an attorney to assist you that is familiar with all the things you and the attorney will need to accomplish. I would think you would want to do this as you will likely get a distribution from this estate. If finance are an issue for you, my firm will often consider taking most of our fees from the estate funds when they become available.
Your boyfriend will have difficulty qualifying, but the process need not be difficult. With a competent, qualified lawyer, your Petition can be prepared and filed, and all you need to do is sign. If all of the natural heirs waive bond, the costs include the advertising and the legal fees, all of which can easily be funded by selling one or both of the properties and putting a nice check in your pocket. While you might succeed in doing this yourself, and the probate process has become immensely simpler in the last 20 years, a seasoned professional will make it easy and profitable for you by preparing the paperwork, and, where needed, linking you with realtors, investors, investigators, and everyone else you need for a successful probate. This is most of our work these days, and we're down in court with multiple estates almost every week. We'll be happy to help, and, if you prefer, payment can come from the proceeds of the sales.
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