A Good Lawyer Gives You Confidence

Estate Concerns And Dying Intestate

When someone passes away, the last will and testament usually plays a large part in what happens next. A will dictates how the deceased's property is to be handled and so much more. In some cases, there is no valid will. That might happen when the will cannot be located, the will is not valid, or the deceased never created a will. Read on to find out what happens when someone passes away without leaving behind a will, also known as dying intestate.

Bypassing a Will

More and more people are interested in keeping their property away from probate. That might include creating a trust instead. A revocable trust does nearly everything that a will can do but quicker and easier. With a trust, beneficiaries have no need to wait for the probate court to make their declarations. Other people take things a step further and add special designations on bank accounts and real estate deeds that dictate how their estate should be dealt with. All of these measures will automatically override a will. That does not mean, however, that probate is not needed or necessary. While you can keep most or all of your assets out of probate, probate will always proceed unless the estate is very low in value.

The Purpose of Probate

Probate is a very old way of dealing with death, the property left behind, and debts of the estate. In the event no valid will is found, the probate court will take over the estate (temporarily) and make the decisions.

If there is property to be divided, each state has rules known as succession. A method of making sure the bills left behind by the deceased is set up and a personal representative (or executor) is chosen to oversee the estate during probate. The job of the personal representative is to pay bills as directed by the estate or the probate lawyer, preserve and care for the estate assets, make an inventory of the estate assets, and more.

Succession and Beneficiaries

If the deceased did not leave either a will or make other designations like a trust, the state has a plan for handing property down to the survivors. Unlike with a will or a trust, the deceased has no way of leaving certain items to certain people or providing funds to a charity organization. The state often takes the easiest route and gives the entire estate to the surviving spouse. If there is no living spouse, then the money goes to any natural-born children (divided evenly among them). After that, if no children or spouse exist, the estate goes to others in a specific order, such as the siblings of the deceased.

You can remove a lot of uncertainty from your estate planning and make things clearer for your loved ones by creating a complete estate plan. Speak to an estate-planning lawyer to learn more.