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Wills 101

What If I Die Without A Will? (Intestate)

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Each state provides a will for you IF you do not have a valid will. These laws are called "intestacy" laws because when a person dies without his or her own Will, the person is said to have died 'intestate.' 

Intestacy laws provide what happens to your assets if you die without a valid Will. 

Intestacy laws seldom provide what you would want. For example, one state's intestacy law dictates that your spouse's share is to be equal to that of each of your children's. This might not be so bad in theory. But, what if you had nine children? Each of your children would receive 10% of your property and your spouse would also only receive 10%!

Intestacy laws don't make any provision for people other than the traditional family to whom you might want to leave money, including significant others to whom you are not married, friends, more distant relatives and charitable organizations.

To learn about the intestacy laws in your state, see: offsite link

Besides leaving your property in a manner you desire, there are other reasons to have a Will, including:

  • With intestacy, the court appoints the person to administer your estate. If you have a Will, the court generally follows your wishes about who that person will be. If you do not have a Will, the person the court selects to administer your estate may not have the best interests of your heirs at heart, will not know how to fill in blanks according to who you are, and will probably have to furnish a bond to assure his or her duties are carried out honestly. The cost of the bond will unnecessarily increase the cost of administering your estate.
  • If your child's other parent is unavailable or unfit, the court will determine who will be the guardian of your children with no input from you. Often, this will be a person you would not have selected and may be someone who does not have the child's best interest at heart.
  • If no relatives are located, your assets will go to the state!

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