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What happens if you pass on without a will?

Many people put off estate planning, realizing that creating a will or trust can be a challenging task that forces them to think about the future.

As a result, it's not uncommon for a person to pass on before creating an estate plan. If this happens to you, the laws of intestate succession come into play. These laws go a long way in determining who gets what after your passing.

While these laws differ greatly from state to state, it often comes down to whether or not you are single or married at the time of your death. Here are a few examples:

  • Single with no children: In this case, your parents will receive your entire estate. If only one parent is living, this person, along with any siblings, will inherit your assets.
  • Single with children: If you are single and have at least one child, your estate will typically go to this person. If you have more than one child, your estate will be distributed in equal shares.
  • Married with no children: Depending on your assets and how they are owned, your estate will either go to your spouse or it will be divided between your spouse, parents and siblings.
  • Married with children: If you are married and have at least one child at the time of your death, your estate will end up in the hands of your spouse.

While these are among the most common situations, there are others that can come into play. With so much gray area, you should learn more about intestate succession laws in your state, as well the process of creating an estate plan.

Source: FindLaw, "What Happens If You Die Without a Will?," accessed Dec. 12, 2017

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