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Formerly Lannom Law LLC

What Happens if You Die Without a Will?

Understanding Intestacy Law

Dying without a will means having no say in how your assets are distributed after your death. This situation, known as dying “intestate”, triggers the intestacy laws of your state to determine how your estate will be handled. At Beacon Legacy Group, we aim to help you understand the implications of intestacy and why having a will is critical.

The Basics of Intestacy

Intestacy laws vary by state but generally follow a similar pattern that prioritizes close family members. If you pass away without a will, your estate will be distributed according to these laws, which may not reflect your personal wishes. Here’s what typically happens:

  1. Spouse & Children

In most states, if you are married and have children, your spouse and children will share your estate. The proportions can vary: for instance, your spouse might receive one-third to one-half of your estate, with the remainder divided among your children. This distribution could unintentionally displace your spouse or not provide as you would have preferred.

  • Single with Children

If you are single with children, your entire estate will generally be divided equally among your children. If any child has predeceased you, their share may go to your grandchildren.

  • No Immediate Family

If you have no spouse or children, your estate could be passed to extended family members, such as parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews. In the absence of any family, your estate might eventually escheat, or revert, to the state.

  • Unmarried Couple

Unmarried couples are notably unprotected under intestacy laws. No matter how long you may have lived together, an unmarried partner typically has no inheritance rights under intestacy statutes. This makes having a will crucial to provide for your partner.

The Limitations of Intestacy

Intestacy does not consider your personal relationships or your intentions. Close friends, charities, and even non-biological family members who might be significant in your life will receive nothing. Moreover, intestacy can lead to prolonged legal battles among family member, complicating what can already be a difficult time.

Avoiding Intestacy

Creating a will allows you to control the distribution of your estate and can help prevent the undesirable consequences of intestacy. Here are a few ways Beacon Legacy Group can help:

Drafting a Will:

We guide you through creating a will that reflects your wishes and complies with state laws.

Establishing Trusts: Trusts can provide additional layers of protection and help manage your assets both during your life and after your death.

Regular Updates: We recommend regularly reviewing and updating your estate planning documents to reflect life changes such as marriage, divorce, and the birth of children.

Dying without a will leaves the distribution of your estate in the hands of state laws, which might not align with your personal wishes. At Beacon Legacy Group, we believe everyone should have a will that directs their legacy in a manner that reflects their desires and protects their loved ones. Contact us today to learn how we can help ensure your estate in handled according to your specific wishes, not just the generic rules of intestacy.

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