If you have had a loved one pass away that did not have a legal will in order, or if you are trying to get things in order for your loved ones when you die, you may have questions about what will happen to an estate if the deceased has no written will. Although the laws vary greatly by state, there are a few common factors that are taken into consideration when someone dies without leaving instructions on how to divide his or her possessions. Typically, the estate will be given to a spouse, children or other surviving relatives.
Many states recognize the spouse of the deceased as the primary inheritor of the estate if no will if left dividing assets. In some places, the estate is divided between the spouse and any children left by the deceased. Other states give the spouse sole ownership of the estate as it is considered “marital property.” Most states do not recognize domestic partnerships, however, and the estate would be passed to the next living relatives.
If the deceased is unmarried but has a child or children, the estate will often be divided equally among the children. If the deceased has parents or a spouse still living, the assets may be divided among these as well, but in some states, the children are the sole inheritors.
The person who has no spouse, parents, or children living when they die will have his or her estate divided among the closest living relatives. This may include siblings, nieces, and nephews, etc. Although rare, if a person dies and has no known living relatives, the estate is often turned over wholly to the state in which the deceased person resided.
Having a loved one to die without leaving a will can cause a stressful situation for surviving family members. You may be encouraged to make your own will to help your family members avoid this conflict when you pass away. If you are struggling with dividing the assets of an estate of a deceased relative, talking to an estate lawyer in your state may help you find answers you need. He or she can guide you in the laws of your area and what assets you are entitled to. They may also be able to help you make your own will so that you can have more control over how your estate is divided after you are gone. Call an estate lawyer today to find the answers to the questions you have been asking.