Heirs Of Your Estate: Who Gets Your Money If You Die Without A Will

If you haven't prepared a will, it's time to sit down with an attorney to prepare this critical document. Even if you believe that you don't have a lot of assets, you may be worth more than you think you are. If you die without a will, your assets are automatically distributed to heirs determined by a set of rules followed by the probate court. If you have people in your life you want to inherit some of your money, or others you specifically want to leave out of your will, it's important to make your wishes known through the creation of a will.

The Rules of Intestate Succession Vary by State

In each state in the United States, there are a set of rules that determines who inherits your estate if you die without a will. Spouses and blood relatives generally inherit, while friends, charities and unmarried partners will not inherit anything without a will in place. While each state varies slightly, if you are married, your spouse will get the largest share of your estate should you die unexpectedly. If there are no children involved, your spouse may inherit your entire estate.

When You Don't Have a Spouse or Children

If you die and you don't have any children, and you are single, the courts look towards your parents as those who will inherit your estate. If your parents are still alive, they will inherit all of your estate. If you no longer have parents, your estate will be divided among your siblings. If you don't have any siblings, who inherits your estate may get complicated. If you have any cousins, they will each inherit an equal share of your estate. It is rare for a person to die without any existing blood relatives to inherit. If this happens, your money will go to the state.

If you have children or siblings that you want to specifically leave out of your inheritance, you must make this clear when you prepare you will. If your siblings inherit, all half siblings are entitled to an equal share. If you don't want to leave money to specific individuals, it is important to name them in your will and declare that you are knowingly disinheriting them. If you have significant assets and you don't want the state to determine what to do with them, it is imperative that you have a will created to disperse your assets.

For professional legal help, contact a lawyer such as Susan M Caplin.