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What Happens When You Die Without a Will?

What Happens When You Die Without a Will?

Wills and Trusts Law Firm

When you die without a will, it’s called being intestate. Typically, if you don’t have a will, the estate will be adjudicated through probate court. A judge will appoint an executor to handle the details of your estate and present information to the court. Here are some of the pitfalls of not having a will.

You Don’t Decide Who Takes Care of Your Children

If you have minor children, on your death, the other parent will take care of your kids. If you are single and the other parent isn’t in the picture, then the court may appoint someone to take care of your children. Ideally, this person is family, but depending on the dynamics in your family, it might not be the best person or the one you would trust. To avoid this issue, name a guardian of your children in your will.

Your Assets Go to Your Heirs as Decided by State Laws

Without a will, your assets are distributed according to intestacy laws in the state where the property is located. Generally speaking, your spouse is your beneficiary, but it can be more complicated than that. If you have children with another person, your estate could be divided between your current spouse and your children. If you aren’t married, the state has laws that outline who inherits. First, it would look for children. Next, your living parents would be identified as beneficiaries, then siblings or nieces and nephews. If no relatives are found, the estate would probably go to the state.

If you are living with an unmarried partner, you might assume that your property would go to that person. Probate courts look for relatives who are married to you or related by blood. An unmarried partner would not qualify. This could leave your partner in the lurch. If you have a painting that you want to give to a friend, it wouldn’t happen. Avoid complications by naming beneficiaries in your will.

Your Assets Could Be Tied Up in Probate Court For a Long Time

If your relatives argue over who is your beneficiary, the real beneficiaries may never see any of your assets while the court tries to find a resolution. Probate court fees and expenses could take a chunk out of your estate. Your estate will have to go through probate if you have a will, but the court will have your wishes, making it easier to settle the estate. You can also name an executor to oversee your wishes.

Talk to a wills and trusts law firm in Ridgefield, CT today about a valid will to give you peace of mind when you die.

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

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