We are all going to die eventually: A Simple Will can save your Loved ones. In this article, we’ll discuss what happens if you die without a will.
Most of us are very busy just living our lives to worry about the day we finally die and pass to whatever each individual thinks will come next. But as we grow older, thoughts start to seep in that it might be time to consider getting things in order. That means having a WILL and some life insurance to make sure things go smoothly after you pass.
While many want to get things for their final days, finding the time and sometimes motivation can be another story. It would be nice if we could wait until our very LAST day and then magically pull everything together (believe it or not, about 60% of Americans are using that as their game plan), but the fact is sometimes our bodies or minds won’t allow us to do things like purchase life insurance, and have a viable will in place before we die.
What Happens If You Die Without a Will?
If you’re dead without a will, it’s going to be in the court’s hands as to what happens next. Laws vary from state to state, and you can only hope that you won’t have to hire a lawyer as they will have no hesitation billing you heavily on hour by hour basis.
In this case, the state establishes an Intestate or Intestacy process to determine if the deceased’s assets will go to their children’s spouse, siblings, or parents. The assets are frozen until the court decides according to the state’s intestacy laws.
Do you really want to trust a judge to decide what happens to everything you collected (money and otherwise) during the course of your life? We all would like to trust the legal system, but how many of us can say that we DO trust any part of our legal system. You never know without a will, who gets what.
What Happens When You Die Without a Will, But You Are Single?
If you are single and pass away before creating a will, there can be several implications. Unless otherwise specified, your children will inherit your entire property. If, however, you are childless, your parents will get the entire estate depending if both or one of them is living. The third scenario is that the estate will be divided among your siblings and the surviving parent if one has already passed away.
There may be no siblings, surviving parents, or even the descendants of siblings in some cases. In these cases, one half of your estate will go to your maternal side’s relatives while the remaining half will be inherited by your relatives on the paternal side.
For single parents, the estate will go to their children equally unless specified in your will. However, if a child dies before you and has any children, these grandchildren will receive that child’s share.
What Happens When You Die Without a Will, But You Are Married?
Irrespective of the state, your surviving spouse will inherit a portion of your estate if you die without a will. However, it also depends on the ownership of your assets.
If the assets are marital or community property, they will entirely go to your spouse, but it may be split among your siblings, surviving spouse, and parents
if it is your separate property.
If you have children with the surviving spouse in states like California, the entire property will go to him or her. But, if you have surviving children from another partner or spouse, one half will go to the surviving spouse and remaining will be passed on to these surviving children.
What Happens If You Die Without a Will and You Have Children?
In most of the state, the rights of your children rest with the court if you pass away without a will. The court may appoint a guardian to look after the children until they become of age. But, it is a terrible fact that the court doesn’t really know your family dynamics to determine what’s best for your kids.
A family member my most likely step in to take up the responsibility, but you can’t guarantee that the child or children will be raised according to your choice without a legal will. Hence, parents should never make the mistake of avoiding state planning and will to protect their children’s future.
What Happens When You Die Without a Will and You Have a Domestic Partnership?
Not every state recognizes domestic partnerships for estate transfers. Hence, it is better to check your state’s laws to know about property distribution after your passing. In most of the states, the domestic partners get equal rights as a surviving spouse. But, it depends on the ownership of the property.
What Will Happen If Unmarried Couples Die Without a Will?
No matter how long you live together, your relationship will not be recognized by the intestacy laws. Hence, dying without a will can devastate the surviving partner. Unmarried couples do not inherit any part of their dead partner’s estate because laws favor the relatives.
Even if you have a long-term relationship, your partner will receive nothing in the probate unless you explicitly mention their name in your will.
What Happens to Your Property and Taxes If You Die Without a Will?
According to the federal laws, the estate will be taxed at 40% if it is valued above $11.58 million. If your estate values below this limit, it will be exempt from federal taxes, but state taxes can still apply.
Some states will tax your property with up to 16% if it is valued over $1.6 million, while other states may have a specific formula to distribute it among your surviving spouse and children if you die without a will.
What Happens to Your Family If You Die Without a Will?
If you die without a will, it will be left to a court and lawyers and red tape to figure out what to do with your belongings. It can be so complex that this can lead to many family issues. We have heard repeated reports from our clients, that when other members of their families passed, feuding members of the surviving family went to virtual war with each other.
Now luckily, not all Americans are sleeping at the wheel when it comes to preparation. Surveys have found that 40 to 45 percent of adults in America have taken the time to prepare a will.
The heck will break loose if things are not properly prepared for such as a will or some form of life insurance, including burial coverage to make sure cremation or a more traditional in-ground burial doesn’t put the family into financial ruin.
The court appoints an administrator. Some judges have big hearts and take into consideration what the deceased may have wanted. Other judges want to move things along and pick the name they feel will promptly handle things.
Sometimes, that manner does not match the desires of the family or the deceased, but at that point, it is too late as the courts have kicked in and taken full control of the situation.
This is why it is so important to prepare. Not to just kick the can down the road hoping that everything will turn out just right. Things will most likely not turn out right for those who did not take the time to prepare.
Have your final wishes respected? It won’t take that long to prepare a simple will, have some form of life insurance, and make sure your loved ones know you would be very unhappy with any dissent from your passing.
Gary P. Cubeta
(Serving Americans In All 50 States)