How Can Intestate Succession Impact Your Estate?
Ideally, everyone should take time to make plans for their estate before it is too late. Unfortunately, not everyone does. If you have not completed your estate planning, it is important that you understand what could possibly happen with your assets after your death.
What Is Intestate Succession?
Each state practices intestate succession. Intestate succession is a plan that the state laws outline for distributing assets after someone dies without a will. Without a will to work with, the laws attempt to distribute the assets to the heirs in a manner that would closely resemble what the deceased would want if he or she had made plans prior to dying.
Intestate succession laws vary from state to state. However, there is one person who has more rights to the estate than others. Unless you are unmarried, your spouse will usually be given a larger share of your estate.
What If You Are Separated?
Even if you and your spouse are not living together and have not lived together for a long time, the law will still be on his or her side. The surviving spouse might be awarded all of your estate if you do not have any children. If you do have children, the court will decide what the split will be between your spouse and the children.
If you do not want your spouse to get some or all of your estate due to separation or estrangement, it is imperative that you take estate planning measures. For instance, a will can help clearly outline who should get your assets and also explain why your spouse was not included, if necessary.
What If You Do Not Have a Spouse or Children?
What happens with your assets if you have no spouse or children can vary from state to state. However, some states start to look at other surviving relatives. For instance, your parents, grandparents, and siblings might be awarded your estate's assets.
In the event that no surviving relatives can be found, the state will usually take possession of the estate. It is important to note that friends, charities, and even step-children could be excluded from receiving any part of your estate due to the fact they are not blood relatives. If you want them included, you have to take action and create an estate plan.
Estate planning is not as time consuming and exhausting as you might believe. Work with an experienced attorney at a law firm such as Bayer Jerger & Underwood to ensure that your assets end up with your heirs.