By: Katherine On: December 6, 2016 In: Uncategorized Comments: 142
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Many people put off creating a will for years, but what happens if you die without one?

Whether you are young or old, rich or poor, you should consider creating a will or trust. When a person dies without a will, an already difficult situation can become a complicated legal mess for the person’s loved ones.

When the State is Involved

When a person dies without a will, it is said that the person died “intestate.” Each state has intestacy laws in place which determine who is entitled to the deceased’s property and assets.

While intestacy laws vary slightly from state to state, they generally follow the same path, especially for smaller estates. If someone dies without a will but owns no property and has assets of less than $100,000, no formal court proceeding is required. Family members can file a Declaration of Small Estate through a bank, or even the DMV, and are then allowed to collect and split the deceased’s assets.

If property is involved, however, collecting the estate becomes more complicated.

When Property & Relationships Are Involved

When a person dies without a will and owns property, the process varies considerably based on the deceased’s relationship status.

If the person who dies without a will is single with or without children, the process is generally easier than if the deceased is married or has a domestic partner.

What If the Person Who Dies Without a Will is Single?

If a person who is not married dies without a will, the person’s estate goes to his or her child or is split evenly between multiple children.

If the person who dies without a will has no children, then the estate goes to his or her parents. If the parents are deceased, the estate is split among siblings.

What If the Person Who Dies Without a Will is Married?

State laws vary far more widely if a person dies without a will and leaves behind a spouse or domestic partner, children, and other relatives.

If there are children in the relationship, they may inherit up to two-thirds of the estate while the spouse receives the remainder.

If there are no children in the relationship, the surviving spouse may inherit the entire estate — or, depending on the state, as little as one-third of the property and assets, with the rest going to the parents and siblings of the deceased.

Intestacy Laws Around the World

In ancient times, if a person died and left no clear heirs, kings or other rulers would claim the deceased’s estate as their own.

In some ways, that rule is still in effect — if the deceased has no living relatives, his or her property and assets get turned over to the state.

Many countries around the world have intestacy laws similar to those of the United States, including Canada, England, Wales, and Ireland. Other countries do not have explicit intestacy laws, but many family members of people who die without wills can successfully claim ownership of their deceased relatives’ estates.

Note: This page is for general informational purposes only. LLS cannot give personal legal advice to any individual. Please contact an attorney with any questions.

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barbara bibeau
3 years ago

My husband and I have grown children from previous marriages. We own our home jointly as well as vehicles. No other assets. do we need a will?

Brian Spitz
3 years ago
Reply to  barbara bibeau

Hello Barbara,
Yes, it’s always important to have a will, and your case is no exception. Just think of it this way: if both of you were to pass away, what would happen to the home? Would your children be able to simply divide up amongst themselves fairly? It only takes one to put their feet in the sand and gum up the works for everyone. And besides, you don’t want to put them in that position in the first place, as having to decide how to divide up a loved one’s assets is just an ugly and sad thing to have to do. So I would definitely suggest that you and your husband work on getting your will in order. Read more here:
Hope this helped!
— Brian Spitz, President of Big State Home Buyers

2 years ago
Reply to  Brian Spitz

hello I have a question for you. my mother had signed over money and a house before she died of cancer to her mother who is my grandmother. my grandmother bought 20 acres of land with the money my mother had left my grandmother to raise my sister and i.when my mother dies she left a will stating that everything is to be given to us girls if my grandmother dies. my grandmother died in 2016 and now there is a probate case open now and there is involved my cousins and my aunt. my question is here is shouldn’t my sister and I get what my grandmother left which is two properties? I’m in a hole and don’t know what to do and cant find answers I need and my lawyer isn’t cooaperating with me. please help me.

1 year ago
Reply to  barbara bibeau

pls i want to ask questions my grand parents and are brought a lot and house and my grand father was died, they want to planned to sell the lot that they brought so after then they have 4 siblings and my father is the 2nd to the eldest barely i ask about? my father passed away in recently? so we us a legitimate children of my Father can we claim the share even if it is inherit or not? we us children have an obligation to fight for justice and is there any possible my mother can able to get the share? i want to get the share of my dad and can I get it?even he was died ask his son and i am legal age

Brenda eldridge
1 year ago
Reply to  Jing

Out My sister passed away she had no spouse or children just myself and two brothers and nieces and nephews so who will get the estate

3 years ago

My dad has passed away November just gone, he was single, left no will. Does his sister have any rights? She said she would let me the eldest son know about things when they unfreeze his bank accounts etc. She has just avoided anything that iv asked her since . can you give me any advice on this as i strongly believe that she’s spent his money, my dad also had shares of the 3 bedroom house left by his parents. I’m just left with nothing and it was me who found my dad, and also done most of the looking after him until he lost his life to throat cancer, in his rented property next door to the property which was left between my dad and his 2 sisters i believe. Can you give me any advice about this please?

3 years ago
Reply to  Nicky

Hi Nicky call an attorney

erma watts
2 years ago
Reply to  Shannon

Hello!!!Sir my husband died 2013 he has no children only wife no will what can i do?can i get a legal will?please i need your help.thank you.

3 years ago
Reply to  Nicky

You being his child you are the one that is untitled to your dad’s belongings. The children are always the heirs. Before anyone

3 years ago
Reply to  Tamara

My mom passed away in November of 1997. My stepdad passsed away in July of 2006. Long and short of this…..Today my stepdads neice calls me stating that she has been contacted regarding a life insurance policy for my mother. She stated that they contacted her and that she wanted to give me the ladies name and number for the insurance company. I asked the neice to send me a picture of the letter. The letter starts out stating that they are in receipt of a life insurance policy for my mother. I call and the adjuster informs me that the money was left to my stepdad but never claimed. Please keep in mind my mom is passed nearly 20 years ago and my stepdad 11 years. He has no children and owned nothing. The insurance adjuster asks me to send her my moms death certificate so I do along with copies of paper for other insurance policies that were split evenly between my stepdad and both my sister and my self nearly 20 years ago. Is his family supposed to get this money????

11 months ago
Reply to  Kay

what happened with this situation? I am very curious!

Jasmine Simmons
11 months ago
Reply to  Kim

Hello my mom’s neighbor died in his apartment next to her and no one has come to pick up 2 cars that he had left the family came by but didnt remove the belongings as they were not really aware of who he was no one was really checking on him to make sure he was okay before he passed is there anyway that my mom can claim the 2 vehicles???

2 years ago
Reply to  Tamara

Whom do I get ahold of for my deceased husband’s assets we were not living with each other but legally married for more then twenty years he live in california and has sixty five thousand unclaimed assets and two sons ones older and and from first marriage and my son Steven we were taking turned eighteen from second marriage

2 years ago
Reply to  Geneva

He came back to n.m. to try and work out relationship and he passed away and older brother has not let touch nothing that belonged to his brother Steven cause he lived with him .I’m representative of his estate and his other son went got all of his dad’s stuff and trashed it so went to get his belongings and bog brother got rid of all there belongings with out my permission what can I do

Joann Reaves
3 years ago

Hello my daugther passed away in Janurary , she has four children but she had no will. What are there rights? The kids signed a waver for there grandmother to be over there monies ,but she were told that she could not be over the monies, because her credit wasn’t good enough. So the kids has lost the home , and are homeless , car is on the next step to being repossessed . So what can they do? Ps [kids are living with family]

3 years ago

mom passed no will, a trust was drawn In 1 siblings name.. my brothers wife who is trustee of moms estate put him as sole owner of property..what rights do 3 other siblings have?

3 years ago
Reply to  mick

My girlfriend is going through a similar issue. Her mother passed away with no legally binding will. The paper she has is hand written by her mother. Her mother wanted her two daughters to split everything evenly. My girlfriends sister however took everything and moved away. Has only spoken to us once. When asked she says there was no will and my girlfriend will not receive a dime.

Penny vaughn
1 year ago
Reply to  mick

Going three same thing any help with answering please help

sarah greenwald
3 years ago

my brother passed away.And was living with his fiancea. But there was no will does she have to return all of things to my father.Or does she get to keep all of his belongings. She is not releasing anything to us. Does she have a right to keep it.

Michele Montague
3 years ago

My mother was with a man after being married unhappily to my father for 30 years she met and stayed with this second man, (who I will refer as her second (common law husband) as she was devoted to him faithfully until her dearth after 18 years. They had always lived in Southern California together, happily. that he has now passed away, without any family would my sister and myself be entitled to at JORITY least a portion of his estate being that when they were first together, my mother took care of him when he was utterly destitute with my father’s money: something that my sister and me where fine with, as long as they were happy together…what did it matter. But we feel that rather then the majority of his holdings just go to the US Treasury, unanimously, since he was part of our family we can do something useful and improve the quality of our lives. Any thoughts?

3 years ago

My mom passed away and she never did a wll i have been paying the mortgage for a year and i live in the house but i have a brother that wants to come and get half of the house when he hasn’t paid a penney in the house what can i do to protect myself and put the house under my name

2 years ago
Reply to  Vico

No will done then it goes to her children who are yourself and your brother so yes he has the right to claim half of the home unless you buy him out, I; am in the same situation only my brother owns half of the home and my mothers half goes to myself and my other brother. My brother that owns half wants all of it and he can only do that by buying me and my other brother out.

diana cato
3 years ago

I live in statesville,nc…his daughter has been here twice to get his belongings..she has got his debit card from me and emptied his bank accou nt she wants to come back for a third time and get more personal many times do i havee to let here in and what papers could she of filled to make me let her back in again??

debbie nawrocki
3 years ago

my fiancé of 22 yrs recently passed away with no will. all the property we owned truck car mototcycle and house are all in my name. his name is on nothing we never spoke about who would get what as all was in my name now his son said he is going to take me to court to get his dads motorcycle I said regardless of hear say that bike is in my name and you are not getting it. is there a way he can come after me for my stuff

3 years ago

my fiancée of 33 years is terminal. my name is on everything am I safe from the state of florida

Elizabeth Ragona
3 years ago

My mother Marge and her partner Shirley were together 30 years. They were legally married in August 2015. In December 2016, my mother’s partner died from her battle with cancer but didn’t leave passwords or information about several bank and stock accounts that she owned. My mother is having problems accessing these bank and stock accounts and needs them to help pay the expenses for the house they shared. She just keeps saying that because Shirley was the “sole owner”, she can’t access them. Doesn’t being married give her rights to Shirley’s property when Shirley had no other heirs or children?

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