It sound pretty obvious, but sometimes researchers forget: if a deceased person has no money or property, they are not likely to have an estate settlement.
The reality is that individuals who have money or property tend to leave more records, both when they are alive and when they are dead. If your relative died penniless, there generally will not be a need to settle his or her estate. While there are always exceptions, it’s usually true.
For years I tried and tried to find an estate settlement, probate or any record of how things were finalized after a certain relative died. In reviewing court records for him about fifteen years before he died, a reference to him indicated he was nearly bankrupt and was unable to pay a debt that was referenced in another court case.
That’s likely why there was no record of how his estate was settled upon his demise. There was nothing to settle.