Death is a difficult enough topic to think or talk about, let alone plan for. But unfortunately, death is something that we all have to face eventually. And when it comes unexpectedly, it can leave the people we love with many unanswered questions—especially if we don’t have a will in place. So what happens to your personal belongings if you die without a will? Read insights from experienced estate planning attorneys below.
If You Die Without a Will, Your Property Will Be Distributed Based on State Intestate Succession Laws
When a person dies without a will in place, their property will be distributed based on state intestate succession laws. These laws dictate who will inherit the deceased person’s property and in what order. Unfortunately, this often doesn’t align with what the deceased person would have wanted—which is why it’s so important to have a will in place.
Without a Will, You Have No Say in Who Gets What
When you die without a will, you have no say in who gets what. So even if you want your favorite nephew to inherit your treasured baseball card collection, or you want your sister to get your house, it’s not up to you. Instead, your belongings will be distributed according to state law— which may or may not align with your wishes.
A Will Allows You to Name an Executor
When you die without a will, the court will appoint an administrator to oversee the distribution of your property. However, if you have a will in place, you can name an executor— someone who you trust to carry out your final wishes. This gives you peace of mind knowing that your belongings will be distributed exactly as you want them.
A Will Can Help Avoid Family Conflict
Dealing with the death of a loved one is difficult enough without worrying about family conflict. But unfortunately, that’s often what happens when an estate goes through probate. That’s because when people are grieving, they’re not always thinking clearly— which can lead to disagreements or even fights over who gets what. Having a probate lawyer by your side can help avoid all of that drama and give everyone clarity on your final wishes.
No one likes thinking about their own death—but it’s something that we all have to face eventually. And while it’s not a pleasant topic to think about, it’s important to be prepared for the unexpected. After all, no one knows when their time will come. So take the time now to sit down with a lawyer and plan for the future. It could make all the difference for your loved ones later on down the road.