What Happens if You Die Without a Will?

Estate Planning Lawyer

It’s estimated that around 60% of Americans don’t have a will. If you were to die today, what would happen to your estate if you are one of those people without any estate planning documents? The legal term for dying without a will is called intestate. Here’s what you need to understand about not having a will.

State Laws Vary

The laws where the property is owned will determine its distribution. Your state laws will determine who your beneficiaries are and how your property will be distributed. If the state cannot find any relatives, then your estate may go to the state. The thing to keep in mind is that if you own property in a state where you don’t live, the intestacy laws of the state where the property is located will determine how the asset is handled.

Who Gets Your Property?

Although state laws do vary, if you are married, your property is generally distributed to your spouse and/or children. If the children are with your current spouse, the estate may go entirely to your spouse. If you have children with another partner, then the estate may be divided.

If you are single, the estate passes to your children, then living parents, and finally, your siblings. If none of those people exist, the estate is generally divided between nieces and nephews on both your mother’s and father’s side. It can be quite complicated to sort out relatives if you die intestate.

Your domestic partner may or may not inherit if you die without a will. It largely depends on whether your state recognizes a domestic partnership. Unmarried couples are also left without recourse if one of them dies without a will. Most states have intestacy laws that only recognize relatives, by marriage or blood. Unmarried couples do not have a legal relationship under intestacy laws.

What About Probate?

Your estate will have to go through probate whether or not you have a will. Probate is the process where your estate is accounted for and dealt with to make sure creditors are paid and the distribution is fair. If you die intestate, the state appoints an executor to handle the details under the court’s guidance.

Don’t Die Without a Will

Estate planning with an estate planning lawyer in Fairfield County, CT gives you control over how your estate is distributed and who gets the inheritance. Get peace of mind that your beneficiaries will inherit how you want instead of letting the state decide. Make an appointment to get started on a valid will today.

Thanks to Sweeney Legal, LLC for their insight into estate planning and what happens if you die without a will.