Saturday, December 14, 2013

Intestacy: Dying Without A Will

There are people who assume that they really don't need to take the time to draw up a will or engage in any other form of estate planning, and their reasons for feeling this way varied. One very common assertion that many people make is that inheritance planning is unnecessary for them because they don't have significant assets to distribute.

Others aren't interested in estate planning because they feel as though they are too young to address the matter. Then there are those who recognize the value of wills, trusts, asset protection strategies, Medicaid planning, probate avoidance and the like who are procrastinators, never setting aside the time to actually sit down with an estate planning attorney to draw up a plan.

So people die without a will for a number of different reasons, but when they do, the results are rarely what the deceased would have wished upon his or her loved ones. When someone dies intestate, or without a will, the matter will fall into the hands of the probate court. The process of estate administration can be time consuming and often times difficult even when there is a will in place, but intestacy adds a layer of complexity to the matter.

The court will usually appoint someone to act as personal representative and this person would be charged with the responsibility of administering the estate. Assets would be distributed according to the succession laws of the state in which the proceeding is taking place. If the deceased owned real property in a different state, the laws of that state would hold sway in terms of who inherits that piece of real property.

Anyone who dies without a will is invariably making things quite a bit harder on their loved ones due to the realities of intestacy laws. And even if you are young, accidents do happen. If you don't have a lot of assets to distribute, just about everyone has possession that have sentimental value at the very least. Investing the time it takes to draw up a will is well worth the effort, and it is in a very real sense a responsibility that each one of us has to our loved ones.

Alan L. Augulis is a leading provider of expert estate planning guidance in Warren, NJ. For more information on intestacy and other estate planning services, visit our website.
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