The goal of many people who work all their lives and save is to be able to have a comfortable retirement. Another goal is to be able to leave enough assets after death to ensure that family members are taken care of. There are many estate planning tools that are used when hiring a professional like an estate planning lawyer from the law firm Klenk Law could help you achieve these outcomes, but there are still a large number of people who fail to execute wills to safeguard their assets after they are gone. So, what happens to those assets if there is no will?
If a person dies and they did not have a will, this is referred to as intestate. This means that their estate will need to go through the probate process and all decisions on how that estate will be distributed will be made by the court overseeing the probate process per the laws of the state the deceased person lived in at their time of time.
Although each state has its laws that address this issue, in general, the estate will be distributed as follows.
If The Decedent Was Married:
All assets acquired during the marriage are deemed marital property. If the decedent had no children, then all of their share of the marital property goes to the spouse. If children of the decedent are also children of the spouse, the decedent’s share of the marital property will go to the spouse. If the decedent had children from a prior relationship or marriage, then — depending on the laws of the state — the decedent’s share of the marital property could go to those children.
If The Decedent Was Unmarried And Had Children:
All of their assets will be distributed equally among the children. If they are minors, the court will appoint a trustee to oversee the funds and at the age of 18, the children will gain control of the assets.
If The Decedent Was Unmarried With No Children:
- If both parents are living, then assets will be equally divided to each parent
- If one parent is living, then assets will be distributed to that parent
- If both parents are deceased, then assets will be distributed equally to the decedent’s siblings
- If parents and all siblings are deceased, then assets will be distributed per the hierarchy of relatives set forth by the state the decedent lived in at the time of death
- If no surviving family, then assets will go to the state the decedent living in at the time of death
It’s Time You Considered Protecting Your Estate
Not having a will in place can leave assets unprotected, especially if the state intestate laws will result in the distribution of assets to a family member that the decedent would not want to have. Make sure your assets are protected by contacting an estate planning lawyer.