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What Happens if I Die Without a Will?

When an individual dies without a will, he or she has died "intestate," which means intestacy laws of the state where you reside will determine how your property will be distributed, including bank accounts, securities, real estate, and any other assets you might have at the time of your death. These laws will also vary depending on your marital status and whether or not you have any children. Generally, property is distributed in split shares to a decedent's heirs, such as a surviving spouse, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, and other distant relatives.

Here are some possible scenarios that can occur when one dies without a will:

  • Single without children: If, upon your death, you are single and childless, your parents will receive your entire estate if they are both living. If not, it will be divided among your siblings and the surviving parent, if one has already passed away. If both of your parents are deceased, the entire estate will be equally divided among your siblings. If you do not have any siblings or any descendants of siblings who have passed away, the relatives on your mother's side will inherit half of your estate while the other half will go to the relatives on your father's side.
  • Singe with children: Generally, if you are single and have children, the entirety of your estate will be evenly distributed among them.
  • Married without children: If you are married at the time of your death and do not have any children, your spouse will receive your entire estate if it is community property, or split between your spouse, siblings, and parents, if it is considered separate property.
  • Married with children: If you are married and have children at the time of your death, your entire estate will be given to your surviving spouse if all of your children are the children of that spouse. If some of your children are from a previous relationship, your surviving spouse will receive half of the estate while the remaining portion will be distributed to your surviving children from your other partner.
  • Unmarried couples: For unmarried couples who live together, dying without a will can be immensely problematic. Intestacy laws only recognize relatives, which means unmarried couples do not inherit the property of the other partner if he or she dies without a will. Unless a will clearly states the person's intentions when they die, the property will be divided among relatives.

Long Island Estate Planning Attorney

One of the most essential parts of a proper estate plan is a will. At The Law Office of Michael J. Brescia, P.C., we provide the legal counsel you need to get your estate in order to safeguard your loved ones against an uncertain future. A last will can make sure your estate is handled and distributed according to your wishes. Let us give you the peace of mind you seek.

Contact our office today at (631) 386-8767 to discuss your case with an estate planning attorney!

Categories: Wills
50 Route 111, Suite 218, Smithtown, NY 11787

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