The older that you get, the more important that it is to think about writing up a will. But what happens when someone dies without a will? Wills are important documents that designate where the possessions of someone will go after they die. Wills create autonomy and allow for people to have greater control over their assets, even after their death. We will be diving into wills and what not having a will at the time of death will mean in the following article.
What Is A Will?
Before we can get into what happens when someone dies without a will, we must discuss what a will is. As previously mentioned, a will is a document that designates where the possessions of a person will be distributed after their death. A will can designate who different possessions will go to including family members, friends or charities. However, wills also have other purposes. The name of a will executor can be listed in a will, specific accommodations can be made for minor children, children with disabilities, and pets, and debts can be taken care of with a will.
What Happens When Someone Dies Without A Will?
Now the question of what happens when someone dies without a will can be answered. When someone dies without having a will, none of the potential heirs will have any rights to or say over the person’s estate. The property will then have to go through the probate process. The probate process involves the estate going through probate courts where the courts will decide how the property will be distributed. The probate process can be very complicated taking months or even years to complete. The legal fees to go through the probate process are typically very costly and are paid out of the estate.
How Is An Estate Distributed Without A Will?
You may ask how a person’s estate will be distributed without a will. Different states have different laws as to how they deal with probate distribution, but typically the property will be split between the surviving spouse and any children. The reason why a will is important is because people may have other individuals that they would like their property to be inherited by. If the person does not have any living spouse or children, the courts will decide to which relatives an estate will go to. Typically charities, unmarried partners, and friends do not receive any inheritance if a person dies without a will.
When To Write A Will
It is now obvious that writing a will is important. Many adults may not think that they need a will because they are years away from probate. However, it is never too early to prepare. In most states, individuals can write their first will when they are 18 years old. Times when you may want to update or consider getting a will may include when you purchase large assets, get married, or have children. The later in life that a person is, the more crucial a will becomes.
Do You Need Help Writing Up A Will?
If you or a family member needs help writing up a will, it is important to reach out to an experienced and knowledgeable probate attorney. We at Stevenson, Smith, Hood, & Knudsen offer expert options when it comes to writing a will and other probate documents. We also are well-versed in probate court. So if a family member’s estate is moving through probate, we can offer legal advice and assistance. If you would like to get in contact with of one of our attorneys or would like to begin writing your will, feel free to reach out to us at Stevenson, Smith, Hood, & Knudsen today.