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Wills & Probate Resources
What Happens If Someone Dies Without A Last Will & Testament
No one likes to think about dying, but putting off creating a last will and testament is a terrible idea. When someone dies without a will, settling the estate will be expensive and can take a long time. Also, the court makes all the decisions about who gets which assets. Here, we will explain what happens when someone dies without creating a last will and testament.
The Purpose of a Last Will and Testament
A will is a legal document that explains how someone's property and assets should be distributed when they die.
A legal, valid will explains exactly how assets should be divided and who receives what. It helps heirs avoid any confusion, and it speeds the process of distributing the estate. It can be set up so taxes are minimized. It also enables people with young children to ensure that their kids are taken care of once they are gone.
Dying Without a Will
Those who die without a will are said to die intestate. Once someone without a last will and testament dies, his assets will automatically be controlled by a probate court.
Without a will, the probate court will distribute all the assets based on the laws of the state where the property is located. It doesn't matter who deserves what, if the person who died made any promises about property or what the deceased person would have wanted done.
Probate can be expensive and time-consuming. This is particularly true if there are a lot of assets involved or if the heirs end up fighting amongst themselves. Even with a relatively simple estate, probate may involve court fees and attorneys' fees that will come out of the assets of the person who died.
Besides money, there are often emotional issues involved. When someone dies, they may leave behind items that have sentimental value for other family members or friends. A last will and testament is one way to ensure family heirlooms are given to the people who value them. But when a court decides who gets what, that family heirloom may go to someone who isn't interested in it or doesn't even want it.
There can also be serious tax consequences for those who die without a will. With a legal last will and testament, there are ways to avoid unnecessary taxes and ensure heirs get as much of the assets as possible.
Meeting with Wills & Trusts Attorneys
If someone you know dies without a will, it's important to meet with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney as soon as possible. The attorney can explain how the legal system works when someone dies intestate and help ensure the deceased person's estate is divided up the way he would have wanted it. The attorney can also explain what types of probate services are available.
Writing wills can be a difficult process for many people. It involves thinking about death, along with deciding who should get what property. But dying without a last will and testament means the court will decide who receives the property. And by the time the estate has been probated, there may be hard feelings among the heirs and fewer assets to divide up.