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What Happens if I Don't Leave a Will?

While every individual should have a will, many people do not. If you haven’t created a will or other plan for your estate after your death, your estate may not go to the people you intended. Instead, your estate will be divided according to intestate succession laws. The way in which your estate will be divided depends heavily on if you have children or were married. If no relatives are found, your estate becomes the property of the state.

Intestate Succession

If you do not specify how you want your estate handled after your death, your family will usually be given split shares of your property and assets. Your heirs maybe your parents, siblings, children, spouse, or other relatives, depending on who survives you.

If you are single and have no children, your parents will inherit your entire estate. If only one parent is surviving, your estate will be evenly divided between the remaining parent and any siblings, including half-siblings. If neither parent survives you, your siblings will each receive an equal portion of your estate. If no immediate family, including nieces or nephews, are surviving, then half of your estate will be given to relatives on your mother’s side and a half to your father’s side.

If you are single but have children, your estate will be split equally between your children. If one of your children has passed away before you, their children will split their share.

If you are married but do not have children, any community property will be given to your spouse. Separate property will be divided amongst your parents, siblings and half-siblings, and spouse.

If you are married with children, your estate will be given to your spouse. If you have children from another partner, then your spouse will receive up to half your estate, and the remaining portion will be given to your surviving children who are not related to your spouse.

If you are an unmarried couple, your partner isn’t likely to receive a portion of your estate, unless there is a provision for them in a will.

The Benefits of a Will

If you haven’t drafted a will, you should contact an experienced estate planning attorney for assistance. A will can ensure that your loved ones are taken care of after your death and will make your final wishes known.

The benefits of a will include:

  • Unmarried partners can be designated to inherit what you want them to.
  • Minor children will have a designated person to take custody of them.
  • You can establish and fund care for your pets after your passing.
  • You can specify your desires for a funeral, burial, cremation, or other plans.
  • You prevent your family from arguing over your estate.
  • You can provide a share of your estate to close friends or other non-relatives.

Your future shouldn’t be left to chance. If you haven’t created a will, our Phoenix estate planning attorneys can provide you with the experience and knowledge to ensure that your final wishes are honored. At Taylor & Lihn, PLLC, we understand how overwhelming it can be to make end of life preparations. We have more than 30 years of combined experience in all estate planning matters, including the creation of wills and trusts. Contact our firm today at (602) 900-9860 to request a free case evaluation.

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