What Happens to an Estate if There is no Will?

Oftentimes, people wonder what will happen if they do not write a will. The truth is, failing to write a will can drastically what will happen with your assets upon your passing. That being said, though writing a will is perhaps the central document in the estate planning process, there is far more to a comprehensive estate plan than simply drafting a will. There are several assets that wills do not handle, some of which include stocks, IRAs, retirement plans, and 401(k)s, life insurance proceeds, property held in a living trust, and more.

That being said, not having a legally enforceable will upon death can still cause serious trouble, which is why you must draft one. Fortunately, our experienced Maryland estate planning firm is more than happy to help you through the will-writing process, every step of the way. Here are some of the questions you may have about what happens if you do not write a will:

What happens if I die without writing a will?

If you die without writing a will, first and foremost, you will not have appointed an executor to handle your assets and ensure they are distributed as you would have intended. The court will then determine whether your spouse, children, or other family members are to be appointed as your executor. When someone dies intestate (without a will), the process of intestate succession begins. In most cases, only spouses, blood relatives, and registered domestic partners will inherit your assets upon passing, which means that friends, unregistered partners, and more will generally not be included.

Will my children inherit my money if I do not write a will?

In many cases, children’s’ inheritances are a complicated matter when an individual does not write a will. Generally, legally adopted children, biological children, children born after the parent’s death, or children born outside marriage will automatically receive inheritances. However, there are many cases where this becomes complicated, such as with foster children, children adopted by stepparents, and more.

That being said, neglecting to establish a guardianship in your will may also put the custody of your minor children at risk. If you pass away without appointing a guardian, the courts will generally have to decide who should raise your child. Rather obviously, no parent wants to think about leaving their child’s upbringing in another person’s hands, however, wouldn’t you rather appoint someone you know will take good care of your child if the situation calls for it? We understand how overwhelming the process can be, but we are here to help. Do not hesitate to ask.

Contact our experienced Maryland firm

The attorneys at JD Katz have years of experience compassionately guiding clients in Maryland through the estate planning and administration process. Our firm also has experience with matters of elder law, business law, tax law, and litigation. For a legal team that will put your needs first, contact JD Katz today.