A will outlines your wishes for how your estate will be managed and distributed after you die. However, if you die without this important document, there can be a crisis for your loved ones as they scramble to manage your estate without any guidance.
Understanding intestate succession
If you die without a will, it is said that you have died “intestate.” This means that the laws of your state will determine how your estate gets distributed. These laws are typically called “intestate succession” or “the laws of descent and distribution.”
How intestate succession works
Generally, intestate succession laws favor immediate family members, such as spouses and children, over more distant relatives. If you’re married and have children, your estate will usually pass to them. Note that while estate administration and probate laws vary from state to state, if you die without any close family members, your estate will likely get distributed to more distant relatives or even the state. Sometimes, a person dies without any living relatives. In this case, the estate would go to the state.
The consequences of intestate succession
Dying without a will can have significant consequences for your loved ones. First, it can cause financial hardship as they try to figure out how to pay for your final expenses and manage your estate. Additionally, it can cause emotional stress during an already difficult time. Finally, it can lead to disputes among relatives about who should receive what from your estate.
While intestate succession laws are typically designed to distribute your estate in a way that is fair and equitable, it is always best to have a will in place to ensure that your estate is distributed according to your wishes. A will allows you to name a personal representative, or executor, who will be responsible for managing your estate and carrying out your wishes.