When it comes to reasons not to have a last will and testament, thinking that it means loved ones will have an easier time of things after you pass is a poor one. Read on and find out what dying intestate can mean.
How You Can Avoid Probate
Even if there is no will or a will is not found, probate is almost always inevitable. In certain cases, some states shorten and greatly simplify the probate process when an estate has very few assets. However, dying intestate can usually mean that probate will proceed in a somewhat different manner.
Probate for the Intestate
If you don't have a will, your loved ones will still be required by law to file what is known as an estate administration rather than a will. This document closely resembles the filing of a will.
Just as with a will, someone will be appointed to oversee the estate during probate. With a will in place, the person is called an executor or personal representative. With an estate filing, they may be known as the estate administrator. With or without a will, the administrator and the executor have very similar responsibilities. In some cases, however, an estate administrator will be asked by the probate court to purchase a bond. The bond assures that the administrator won't steal from the estate.
The laws of succession of each state will dictate who will inherit the estate. While each state has its own succession list, they generally go by blood relatives that are the closest to the deceased. That might look something like this:
- Current spouse of the deceased.
- If there is no living spouse, the estate goes to any adult children of the deceased.
- If there are no adult children, the estate goes to any adult siblings of the deceased.
And so on. The law of succession allows for an estate to be inherited even if the blood relative is a second or third cousin of the deceased. If more than one person is in each category, the estate is equally divided.
Alternatives to a Will
If you don't necessarily want to make out a will, you can take estate actions that will make things easier on your loved ones after you pass away. Talk to an estate lawyer about these ideas:
- Joint deeds and titles involve adding beneficiaries to a deed or title. The property automatically goes to the other person or people listed after a death.
- Bank and investment account designations that transfer ownership directly to a beneficiary upon death.
- A trust that replaces a will but is more customizable and private than a will.
To learn more, speak to an estate planning attorney.