If someone dies without a will, their property will be passed along based on intestate succession. This is the state’s way of making a will for an individual who passes away without one, and its purpose is to distribute someone’s possessions based on the way that the average person would. However, this distribution may vary greatly from a person’s actual wishes, and there are no exceptions based on special needs or circumstances or if an individual’s wishes were known if there is not a valid will.
The people who are to receive the property of the deceased are family members, including their descendants. This means that in addition to someone’s children, parents and siblings, someone’s grandchildren, nieces, aunts and uncles may also be eligible to receive assets. If there are no living relatives to distribute possessions to, the assets will go to the state.
In most cases, if someone passes away without a will, all or the majority of their estate will pass on to their spouse, and the remaining amount will be divided between the parents of the individual who passed on or their descendants if they are not the children of the surviving spouse. If there is no surviving spouse, the estate usually is passed on to descendants.
Estate administration can be made much easier with appropriate and current legal documents. In addition to ensuring that a will, trusts and power of attorney are in place, it is essential that they are updated to reflect major changes in someone’s life, such as births, deaths and marriages. An attorney may be able to assist people by drafting these documents and updating them as necessary.