What Happens to Your Estate If You Die Without a Will and No Children?

Jun 24, 2022

If you don't have a will, what happens to your estate? Unlike a living will, your estate is automatically distributed to your closest relatives and loved ones. However, if you have no children or no family members who can act as executors, your estate may be subject to state laws and will be distributed according to state law. You may wish to discuss the possibility of creating a living will with an estate planning attorney.

Most individuals who pass away without a will have surviving spouses or adult children. When there are no living relatives, the state appoints a representative to handle the estate. Unfortunately, a court can also name a public trustee to distribute your estate to your surviving relatives. However, the law rarely directs it this way. The best solution is to create a living will and leave it with your family.

If you die without a will, your spouse will receive the entire estate if you had a child or children. A decedent's surviving spouse is entitled to the first 25% of their estate and is not limited to $50,000. A childless spouse will also get a third of the estate if there is no living spouse. This is a great solution for many people whose estates would otherwise be divided.

Another option to consider is a living trust. This document acts as an alternative to a will by stating the beneficiaries. Assets owned by a trust do not need to go through probate. However, estates with assets in retirement accounts, insurance policies, pension plans, and similar plans do not need to go through this process. However, if you die without a living trust, your assets may be subject to a higher level of probate.

What Happens to Your Estate if You Have No Children? Intestacy laws determine what happens to a person who dies without a will and no heirs. If you have no surviving spouse or children, your estate will be divided among distant relatives. If no one can be found, the state will take your assets. Additionally, many states ban a person from inheriting if they caused the decedent's death. These laws are known as'slayer statutes' and prohibit inheritance from people who abandon children or commit crimes against them.

In California, the laws of intestacy are applied in these situations. Intestacy laws are strict and require that a person's will be probated in the county the decedent lived in. Choosing the person to be your executor is vital. It avoids potential fights and unnecessary stress, which is a common result of no will.