How Does The State Manage Your Assets When There’s No Will?

A surprising number of young people — both with and without children — have no Last Will and Testament in place.

The consequences of skipping over this essential document are sometimes misunderstood.

If you die with no Will in place, the legal term for this is “intestate.” You have died intestate. Each state in the USA has its own intestacy laws, and these laws dictate how your property would be distributed in such a case.

And while these intestacy laws vary from state to state, the biggest variation comes in your family status. Did you have children? Were you married? Were you married more than once? These questions all factor into the equation.

If the court can find no relatives, then all of your belongings would become property of the state. But what happens in other circumstances?

kids and child custody mattersIf You Are Married With Kids

If your children are the offspring of your current spouse, then the surviving spouse will receive 100% of your estate. If your children are the product of another co-parent — a previous spouse or partner — then your estate would be divided 50-50. The surviving spouse would receive half of your estate, and the children from another parent would split the other half. If you have multiple children from different partners, it gets more complicated. It also varies in different states.


If You Are Married Without Kids

In this case, the property would be distributed differently depending upon the paperwork of property ownership. If the ownership of marital property is titled jointly with your spouse, then all of your assets would go to your spouse. If the marital property is titled only in the decedent’s name, then these assets would be subject to probate proceedings and ultimately distributed to the surviving spouse.

If You Are Single With Kids

If you have children but are unmarried or divorced, then your whole estate will be divided equally among your children. If you have a child that has passed away, and you have grandchildren that are that child’s offspring, then that child’s equal share will be divided among those grandchildren.

If You Are Single Without Kids

If you are not married and do not have children, then your living parents will receive the entirety of your estate. If one of your parents is living, that parent will receive your entire estate. If both parents are deceased then your living siblings will divide your entire estate. If you have no siblings, nieces, nephews, or surviving parents, then your estate would be divided among the relatives of your late mother and late father.

If You Are Domestic Partners

Domestic partnership vary so widely from state to state that is best to consult your local laws regarding such situations.

If You Are Part of an Unmarried Couple

If you are living together but unmarried, your relationship is not recognized by intestacy laws. None of your estate would go to your partner, but instead would go entirely to your relatives.