What Happens If a Parent Dies Without a Will?

About 14% of individuals younger than 30 have a will, and 68% of Americans aged 65 and older have a will. What happens when someone dies without a will, and why is this document important? Here are some of the most important things you should know.

What Is the Term for Someone Passing Away Without a Will?

The first thing you will need to do is understand the proper terminology for someone dying without a will. When this occurs, estate lawyers will usually call it “passing away intestate” or something of that nature. They will usually work with the state and determine a list of possible executors, and they will be chosen during probate court proceedings. Naturally, this is one of the main reasons why you should strongly consider hiring an attorney if you have a loved one who has died intestate.

What Is the Hierarchy for Appointing an Executor?

If your parent dies intestate, it’s important to know that the state they passed away in will have a say in what happens. The most important thing you need to know is that they will follow a certain hierarchy for appointing an executor. The court’s first choice for an executor would have to be the surviving spouse or domestic partner. If the recently deceased didn’t have a spouse, the court will usually consider adult children as the next logical choice, and then other surviving family members.

What Are the Rules of Intestate Succession?

Of course, yet another thing you will need to understand is that the rules for intestate succession will vary from state to state and jurisdiction to jurisdiction. For example, some states will treat the idea of a domestic partner differently than other states, especially if your loved one had a same-sex partner. There are a few states where domestic partners will have the same legal right to property as a full-fledged spouse, but this isn’t necessarily true in all states.

Develop an Understanding of the “Stigma” of Intestate Laws

Part of the reason why there is such a stigma surrounding these intestate laws is because of the typical manner that an estate is distributed. In most states, if an individual dies without a will, about 50% of the assets will go to the surviving spouse. The rest will be split up equally among the children. These laws rarely allow for anyone else to be considered. This is why it’s important to understand the process of a probate court if dying without a will.

Reasons Why You Need an Estate Planning Litigation Lawyer

An estate planning litigation lawyer is your best bet for guarding against the consequences of dying without a will. When dying without a will, a lot of individuals simply don’t realize the disastrous consequences they are leaving in their wake. They think that everyone is family, and they will reach a civil agreement with each other.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Families and money don’t always mix, and when someone dies without a will it can be a breeding ground for family squabbles, resentment, and bitterness at the worst. However, even if you are in the best-case scenario where all of the would-be heirs are in agreement, there are still plenty of reasons why you should strongly consider getting an estate litigation attorney. There are many situations where you have to navigate potential disputes between trustees, beneficiaries, or even third parties. Moreover, dying with a formal will in hand is the best way to ensure that your final wishes for your assets are met.

Are you facing an uphill battle because your parent or another family member has passed away without a will? Are you feeling overwhelmed navigating through the intestate will process? If so, contact the Knee Law Firm in Hackensack, New Jersey, by calling 201-996-1200. You also can contact us via our website. We will represent your interests in all of your estate-related needs.