Many people do not have an estate plan in place. When you die without an estate plan, it is called “intestacy” or dying “intestate.” In this situation, your assets pass to the beneficiaries of your state’s choice, not yours.
This is referred to as “interstate succession.” If you do not have a plan in place, the law will make your decisions. In other words, if you do not have an estate plan in place, your assets could be given to the wrong people! This is something that you probably do not want.
Many people think that assets go to the state if you don’t have an estate plan. However, as long as you have heirs at law, the assets will stay in your family. It is only if you have no heirs that your estate escheats to the state.
Each state has its own intestacy laws. The state did its best to make provisions that follow what the “average person” would have planned when making his or her will.
What assets will your spouse and children receive? For example, some state’s intestacy laws give a dollar amount ($100,000; $50,000; $30,000) to your spouse and then the remaining assets are split in half between your spouse and children.
If you do not have a spouse or children, your assets would go to your parents. It is important to remember that these laws vary from state to state. Consult with an estate planning attorney in your state.
If you do not have an estate plan in place, your assets could go to the wrong person! What if the state decides to give your assets to your brother who is in the middle of a divorce? What if your assets are given to your alcoholic cousin? The truth is, your assets could do harm if given to the wrong person. It is important to take control of your assets by creating an estate plan.
If you have questions about your state’s intestacy laws, consult with an experienced estate planning attorney.