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What happens if I die without a will in place?

| Jan 25, 2021 | Estate Planning |

One of the benefits of estate planning is that certain assets may be able to bypass the process of probate. This allows heirs to receive their inheritance much sooner, and without as much headache.

Unfortunately, many people may not have estate planning documents set up, or even a will. If you find yourself in the latter situation, you may wonder what happens if you pass away without a will in place.

Dying without a will

According to FindLaw experts, if you die without a will in place it is called dying “intestate.” When this happens, the courts gather and distribute your assets according to your state’s laws on intestacy.

In these instances, there are very few assets that will avoid probate. Some life insurance policies may be payable directly to the beneficiary, but that is about it.

Intestacy succession

The courts pass down your assets in a very specific manner. One of the benefits of estate planning is that you can allocate your assets to whomever you want. If you die without an estate plan or a will, there is no guarantee that your assets will go to who you think they should.

Intestacy succession involves the following path:

  • If your spouse survives you and you do not have children, he or she will receive your entire net estate
  • If your spouse survives you and you do have children, your estate will see division between your spouse and your children
  • If you have neither a living spouse nor living children, your estate will pass to your parents
  • If none of the abovementioned relatives are living, your estate will see division amongst your siblings

It is essential to have an estate plan in place to ensure that your final wishes come to fruition.