What Happens to Your Property If You Do Not Have a Will?
A last will and testament is a very important part of your estate. Your will provides specific instructions on your wishes as to who gets your property upon your death. If you do not have a last will and testament, the state is responsible for distributing your property and each state has a different set of rules regarding intestate succession.
Your state will use its own governing laws to determine which of your beneficiaries will receive what portion of your property. Some states may have different intestate succession laws and may use different formulas to determine where your property should go. If you are married, some states will automatically grant your estate to your surviving spouse while other states may give your spouse only a portion of your property and then distribute your remaining assets to your children. Again, these rules vary by state so it is important to learn more about the laws where you live when you begin planning your estate.
If you do not have heirs who are eligible to receive your property through your state’s intestate succession or if your state cannot locate your heirs, your property will simply revert to the state in which you live. In some areas, your second cousin may be as far down the line as the state will allow for intestate succession. In others however, relatives as distant as a fifth or sixth cousin may be eligible to your estate. Again, it is essential that you know the laws in your state so that you know what will happen to your property should you pass away without a last will and testament.
An estate planning attorney will be able to help you to determine where your property will go upon your death. It is always a good idea to plan for the future and having a will is a good part of that plan. This will ensure that your family will not have to wait for the state to determine what should happen to your assets. Having a will is a good way to protect your family and your property. If however, you prefer not to have a will drawn up or you simply do not get around to it, your family may need to contact an attorney upon your death to ensure that your estate is kept in the family.
Intestate laws can be very difficult to understand, particularly if you have no experience in these matters. An estate planning attorney will be able to help you and your loved ones to better understand these laws and how they apply to each unique situation. Not having a will can cause a number of legal issues for loved ones. Planning ahead and securing a will is essential for those with relatively large estates but even if you or a loved one does not plan ahead, an attorney can help to sort through the legalities of intestate succession and ensure that property goes where it should upon the death of a loved one.