The Consequences of Failing to Plan Your Estate

Although most people don’t like to contemplate their own death, the reality is that deciding how our assets will be distributed after we pass away is crucial to ensuring that our loved ones are provided for after death. Unfortunately, those who fail to take this step and who do not create a will or establish a trust, will have their assets distributed by the state according to the rules of intestacy. This is not only a time-consuming process, but can also lead to a distant relative receiving property that the decedent wanted to be transferred to someone else. To ensure that your own loved ones are provided for after your death, please contact a member of our dedicated estate planning legal team for an initial consultation.

Marital Status

How a person’s estate is distributed if he or she dies without a will depends on a number of factors, including whether the person is married and/or has children. For instance, those who are not married and have no children at the time of their death, will have their estate divided equally between their parents and their siblings, unless the decedent is only survived by a single parent, in which case, he or she will receive a double share of the estate. Even if a sibling predeceased a decedent, that individual’s children could still collect their parent’s portion. In the event that a decedent’s heir has passed away prior to the death of the decedent, but is survived by children, those individuals will split the estate on the basis of what their parents would have gotten.

If, on the other hand, the decedent is survived by a spouse and children, the surviving spouse will receive one-half of the estate, while any children will split the remaining property equally. Surviving spouses with no children will generally receive their loved one’s entire estate.

In some rare cases, an individual is not survived by any relatives, in which case, a decedent’s entire estate will be transferred to the state. This is true even for those who are unmarried, but are in a long-term relationship with another person at the time of their death. The only exception to this rule is for those who are listed on some or all of the assets, whether as a beneficiary who will receive the asset in a transfer upon death or as a joint tenant.

Call an Experienced Attorney Today About Your Estate Planning Questions or Concerns

Those who fail to draft a will or to create a trust risk having their assets divided by the court. This is not only a time-consuming process, but can also result in a distant relative receiving assets that a person wanted to leave to charity or to a dear friend. To learn more about planning your own estate, please contact one of the experienced estate planning lawyers at Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. Attorneys at Law by calling 847-325-5559 or by completing one of our brief online contact forms.


Updated as of July 2019
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