What does dying intestate mean?

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Carl S. Goode |

When you have a will, succession typically follows your wishes with little problem. The process often moves along smoothly, and your wishes come to fruition.

However, if you die without a will, meaning you die intestate, the matter of resolving your estate may not be to your liking. It is still probably going to be a simple distribution through succession, but your wishes will not play a role.

Your spouse will likely get it all

When you create a will or estate plan, you have the ability to make decisions about what you want to happen with your assets. You can leave as little or as much as you want to your heirs. You even can leave assets to friends or charitable organizations. If you desire, you could leave everything to your dog.

However, without a will, the state’s only option is to follow inheritance laws. If you have a spouse, he or she is the top person to receive your assets. In many cases, the spouse gets everything. The only situation where your partner will not get it all is if you have minor children with another person. Then, they will also get some of the estate. Still, your spouse will get the majority.

You have no control

Without a will, you have no control over anything that happens with your estate. Once you are dead, anything you said to anyone is no longer legally valid. So, even if you told someone your wishes, the state does not have to abide by those statements.

Not having a will is a huge misstep, especially when you have specific ideas about what you wish to happen with your assets.

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