The process becomes more complicated and elaborate, when no will is left by the deceased. An application to determine heirship may be required along with an application for Letters of Administration.
The court determines who is entitled to inherit the property in question through an heirship proceeding which includes the consideration of spouses, children, grandchildren, siblings, parents, etc.
In the heirship proceeding, the Court generally appoints an attorney ad litem which conducts independent investigation into the decedents of the deceased to assist the court in determining the heir.
Once the ad litem proffers a report, an heirship hearing occurs presided by a judge. Two disinterested witnesses, meaning those unrelated to the deceased, are required to testify regarding the heirs.
Satisfied that all heirs have been discovered, the presiding judge will sign a judgment, documenting these heirs along with the percentage each heir is entitled to receive of the estate.
The judge will then issue Letters of Administration to the person chosen as the administrator. Letters of Administration serve essentially the same purpose as Letters Testamentary.