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What does it mean to die intestate?

On Behalf of | Feb 7, 2024 | Probate

When someone dies intestate, it just means that they died without an estate plan – even a will. There are no legally recognized instructions for their family members or other beneficiaries regarding what to do with their assets.

This can lead to some negative ramifications. For instance, estate planning is sometimes used to reduce the tax liability of the estate itself. If there’s no plan, a higher percentage of the estate may go to the government in the form of taxes. With a plan, a larger percentage could be given to the person’s immediate family than they may have intended. So dying intestate can directly cost family members in taxes individually.

It can lead to estate disputes

Another issue with dying without an estate plan is that disputes become more likely. Adult children may disagree about what to do with family heirlooms or who should receive them. Two people may fight over the same assets.

What happens if someone does die intestate?

You may have a loved one who recently passed away without an estate plan. You’re concerned about disputes with your siblings or other family members, and you’re not sure how to handle the financial side of the situation.

The most important thing at this time is to understand how the state laws work. Because your relative died intestate, state law will govern these decisions. Under intestate laws, assets are distributed based on relatives’ biological or familial connections to the deceased. These may or may not reflect their actual relationships or what assets the deceased wanted them to have – if any.

If you’re dealing with probate in this situation, it can be complicated and frustrating. Having experienced legal guidance can help you more successfully navigate the process.