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What happens if I die without a Will?

What happens if I die without a WillYou have worked your entire life to provide a good life for your family. You have a beautiful house, lots of valuable possessions, and, because you have lived within your means, you have been able to put away a decent amount of money, all which you plan to pass on when you pass on. But what happens to your assets when you don’t have a Will? Who determines how your assets are divided?

“What happens if I die without a Will?”

When you pass away without a Will, , certain processes begin and for the beneficiaries, complications can arise. An administrator or personal representative will be appointed by the court to distribute your assets to those beneficiaries who are entitled by law – typically spouses, children, parents, and siblings – and settle your debts. While it may be possible for the beneficiaries of an estate to strike a deal regarding the disposition of the   assets, there is no guarantee this will happen. Moreover, if you have minor children, a custodian will be appointed to care for them.    What is guaranteed is that if you die without a Will, the state in which you reside has a “will” for you and the determination of how your assets will be distributed and how your dependents will be cared for may not be what you would have intended.

A will is a dynamic document. It is not “one and done.” Situations change, especially when there is a life-changing event, (e.g. birth, death of a loved one, divorce, inheritance, business transition),  Your Will should  be reviewed and updated periodically so that it always reflects your current wishes, which may not be, and often are not , the same as they were years ago when you wrote/updated the will. Interestingly, a time when we receive many calls from clients for Will Reviews/Updates is right before a trip, as they are afraid something will happen and realize that the Will, whose review has been on the back burner for years, does not reflect current circumstances and wishes.

Bottom line, regardless of your age and economic status, in order to ensure that your wishes will be met, , you need to have a Will and it needs to reflect your current circumstances and intentions.

What happens if I die without a WillIf you have any questions about Wills or Estate Planning, or would like to receive our Will Review Checklist, please contact Steven Shane at 301.575.0313 or sshane@offitkurman.com. Estate planning attorney Steven Shane provides strategic counseling to clients in need of estate administration, offering legal guidance to clients on asset protection and the proper disposition of assets in accordance with the client’s objectives.

Offit Kurman Attorneys at Law: Estates, Trusts and Elder Law Practice Group

At Offit Kurman Attorneys at Law, estate planning is one of the most fundamental and important legal services our lawyers provide. Through our unique estate planning process, our attorneys develop a customized plan tailored to meet your specific needs and objectives. We are dedicated to the design, documentation, and implementation of high-quality estate plans for individuals and families to help you transfer wealth from one generation to the next and beyond. The estate plans we design help you, to the maximum extent possible, minimize the burden of gift and estate taxes and protect your assets from the threat of preexisting and potential creditors.

If you have any questions about Estate Planning or our blog, “What happens if I die without a Will?” please fill out the contact form found on OffitKurman.com to access the sound legal guidance that our experienced estate planning team has to offer. You can also connect with Offit Kurman via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn.