If you die intestate – without a will – your estate falls into the hands of the probate court, and they make the final decision as to who inherits what. The law sets forth a natural progression of inheritance – the intestate succession, depending on who remains in your family with the right to inherit from your estate. This post will not go into detail as to the breakdown of the estate. It merely offers a brief explanation of intestate success as follows:
First, your surviving spouse can inherit. If there is no surviving spouse, the estate will be divided among your descendants or by representation. If there are no surviving descendants, the estate can then fall to the descendants’ parents or surviving parent. If these are not living, their descendants or descendants by representation may inherit from your estate Beyond this level, the estate will fall first to the paternal grandparents and relatives on this side of the family and then to the maternal side of the family. This succinct explanation does not even begin to address the complexities of intestate success, but it illustrates the importance of maintaining a valid will, just in case.
A qualified estate planning attorney can assist you with preparing your will and keeping it up to date. Furthermore, they can assist you in understanding the complexities of intestate laws and how to help your family to avoid this unnecessary complication. Dying intestate never has to happen. This commonly occurs because people believe they are too young, do not need a will, or have a long time to live. Life is unpredictable, as is death. It is never too early to prepare a will.