Wills and Trusts:

In Lieu of a Valid Will

If someone dies without a valid will and did not make plans to distribute property, the deceased person's surviving family members can face a complex, lengthy and costly legal process. When someone dies without drafting a will, an estate intestate is left. A probate court then has to divide up the estate, giving the property to living relatives. However, the court must pay debts and death expenses first. If the deceased has no surviving spouse, children or grandchildren, the estate will be divided between other relatives. In some cases, dying without a will means that people who would never have been picked receive a piece of the estate may be able to receive an inheritance. In addition, these intestacy laws only recognize family, leaving close friends or admired charities with nothing. If no relatives can be located, the estate will go to the state or local government. Knowing these facts often pushes people to create a will rather than allowing their property to be divided by the government.