If you pass away without a will, your state of residency determines how your estate and assets are distributed. In the legal world, this is referred to as intestacy. Every state has different intestate succession laws to distribute a deceased person’s assets, which include real estate, bank accounts, securities, and any other assets he or she possessed before passing away.
Each state handles intestacy differently, but in general your assets will be distributed to any living relatives. However, the varying state laws make things a little complicated. For instance, some states will give everything to your spouse, while others will split your assets between your spouse and parents or siblings. If you have no living relatives, your assets will all most likely go to the state. If you own property in a state outside the one you reside in, the intestacy laws in that state will govern how its succession will be handled.
In some cases, estates can also be brought to court for probate. Probate is the legal process to distribute the estate of a person after they pass away. The probate process includes paying any liabilities remaining on the deceased person’s estate.
So, what should I do?
The only way to ensure your estate and assets are handled the way you would like them to be is to work with an attorney to create a will. A will has several benefits, even beyond following your distribution wishes. There are opportunities to maximize the value of your assets and even ways to donate your wealth to charities.
If you have any questions regarding wills or intestacy, please contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-296-6777. We would be happy to assist you and answer your questions.