Dying Without a Will: What Will Happen?

Many people put off thinking about their will. It can be stressful to think about, but there are a lot of good reasons to make sure you have one. When you have a will, you are able to dictate where your property goes after you die. When you do not have a will, you have to rely on your state laws. If you don’t have a will, here is what might happen after you pass.

When You Are Married

When you’re married, generally your assets are for your spouse. If you have separate property, this might be divided amongst your surviving relatives. However, all of your community or marital property belongs to your surviving spouse. In some cases, if you have children from a previous marriage, then your estate will be split between your surviving spouse and your children. If you only have children with your current spouse, then he or she receives all of your assets.

When You Are Single

If you are single and do not have any children, then your estate is usually given to your parents. If not your parents, then it may be divided amongst your siblings and surviving parents. If you do not have parents or siblings, then nieces or nephews can inherit, next comes the relatives on your mother’s and father’s side. Each side would receive half of your estate.

When You Are an Unmarried Couple

If you are unmarried but have a partner, then you want to make sure that you have a will. Most states only recognize relatives when it comes to property inheritance. This means that without a will, your partner may not receive anything. You need a will to allocate your assets to your partner. If you are in a domestic partnership, the rules may be different. You need to check with your specific state laws. Every state distributes assets differently based on domestic partnership. Normally if you die and you were in a domestic partnership, your partner will receive your assets in the same way that a surviving spouse would. 

Wills might not be fun to think about, but they are very necessary. States all handle dying without a will differently. It’s important that you look into your state laws, but it is always better to draft a will, rather than relying on what might happen if you pass without one. Consult with an estate litigation lawyer, like an estate litigation lawyer in Maryland, today for more information on how to draft your will.

Thanks to Brown Kiely, LLP for their insight into the importance of having a will.