“Many never think about the possibility of dying without a will, but this is still a legitimate question to ask. When a person dies without leaving documentation of their wishes, or makes a will which is not legally valid, everything goes out the window.”
The rules of intestacy govern how the estate is distributed. These rules typically dictate that only married or civil partners and certain close relatives may inherit the assets left behind.
Influencive’s recent article looks at what happens, if you die without a will. The article, “How Estate Planning Works for Those Who Die Without a Will,” explains that if a person dies without a valid will in place, things may get tricky pretty fast. Some common questions include: What becomes of a mortgage, if the mortgagee dies? What happens to a home, when the owner dies? What becomes of a person’s bank account? How is next of kin determined?
When a property owner with a mortgage dies, the promissory note allows the creditor to get paid from the estate. If the estate can’t fully repay the mortgage, the lender may begin the process of selling the property. When a sole homeowner dies, the home is transferred according to the will. If he or she dies without a will, it is transferred according to state intestacy laws. Those laws determine who qualifies as next of kin and thereby inherits the estate.
If a couple jointly owns their home and were joint tenants when the first partner dies, the surviving tenant will inherit the other’s share of the property. However, if the partners are tenants in common, the surviving partner doesn’t automatically inherit the other person’s share.
Typically, there are four primary requirements that form the foundation of a valid will:
- The will must have been drafted with testamentary intent;
- The testator must have testamentary capacity;
- The will must have been drafted without fraud, duress, or mistake; and
- The will must have been duly executed.
Married and civil partners inherit assets following the rules of intestacy, if they are legally married, or in a civil partnership, when they die. If you are divorced, you won’t inherit anything.
A better plan is to sit down with an estate planning attorney and create the documents that go into an estate plan, including a will, powers of attorney and a health care proxy.
Reference: Influencive (July 10, 2018) “How Estate Planning Works for Those Who Die Without a Will”