The Law of Intestacy: An Estate Plan When You Have No Plan
If you died tomorrow without a will or any other kind of estate plan, what would happen to all of your assets? Even if you don't think you have an estate plan, in reality, everybody does. If you have not created a will or a trust that determines how your assets should be distributed when you die, the State will decide how your property is distributed. The Law of Intestacy means that upon your death, certain people in a certain order will inherit your property.
First priority will be any spouse you leave behind. If you leave behind a spouse with no children, then your spouse gets everything, and that may be okay for you. But let's say you leave behind a surviving spouse and children. The children are going to get half of your estate, and the surviving spouse is going to get the other half of your estate.
The problem is, when your kids are under the age of 18, they cannot legally inherit. What that means is, a court will appoint somebody to look after the children's inheritance until they turn 18. This person might not be the surviving spouse, and the expense of the person that's appointed will be paid for by the kids out of their inheritance. This is a result that a lot of people would like to avoid.
Now, let's say you're wondering about what would happen if a childless aunt without a spouse passes away. They don't have any children, so the law looks at concentric circles of relationships that extend outward. So, it would be siblings, then nieces and nephews and cousins, then larger and larger circles of more distant relatives would be entitled to distribution of her assets. If you have any questions about intestacy or you want to talk to us further, feel free to give us a shout.