Q: My mother died and left no will. Can I legally sell her belongings to pay expenses and how do I sell her car?
A: The options available to you depend upon the nature and amount of assets in the estate, whether a will exists, and the cooperation of all of the persons who are heirs at law or named in the will, if any. For small estates not involving real estate or intangible assets such as stocks, there is a small estates affidavit process for estate of less than $40,000 in value. K.S.A. 59-1507b. Persons with the right to inherit assets may present a small estates affidavit to the holders of those assets. Small estates may sometimes use a procedure called "Refusal to Grant Letters.", with a petition to the court that allows for distribution of assets subject to the opening of an estate by a creditor or other claimant in the estate within a certain period of time. Another procedure is informal administration, in which the petitioner lists all of the assets, liabilities, and asks the court for authority as informal administrator to pay the known bills and distribute the assets. If no estate is opened within six months of the date of death, a determination of descent may be filed by the heirs at law for an order confirming their ownership of the assets of the estate. In all instances, if appropriate or necessary, an administrator may be appointed under the Kansas Simplified Estates Act to administer the assets and distribute them. You should consult with an attorney to determine the best course of action for your situation.
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