The phrase “dying intestate” refers to when someone passes away, but they have no will. When this happens, you might think that all their assets and property, also known as their estate, would automatically go to their next of kin and that would be that. Well, it’s actually a lot more complicated than that.
When there is no will, the estate goes into probate. Probate is the legal process that is used to decide who inherits what from an estate. This is a lengthy process that can take anywhere from a few months to years. Not only is this usually very difficult for the family and friends who are grieving, but the process can also put quite a dent in the assets. When an estate goes to probate court, there are legal fees that occur, and those fees are paid out of the estate.
Most people know who they would leave their assets and property to when they pass, but unless that is written down in an official will, their wishes do not matter in the eyes of the court. The probate court will decide who will inherit the estate. This could be one person or multiple depending on their relationship with the deceased. Typically, the assets would be split among the children of the deceased or given to the spouse.
In some situations, people pass and they do not have living children or a spouse. This is where probate can get tricky. The probate court then has to try and find the next of kin. This next of kin may not even be part of the deceased’s life, but if they are deemed the next of kin by the probate court, they will be notified of their relatives passing and may inherit their estate. Next of kin only applies to blood relatives and those legally connected to the deceased like a legal partner or an adopted child. This means that unmarried partners or friends are not eligible to receive anything from the estate.
Another area where having no will can be tricky is when it comes to things like funeral arrangements or the care of minor children. These are things that the deceased may have strong opinions on, but unless included in a will, they are also decided by the court or the next of kin.
Having a will means that you get to decide what happens to your estate when you pass. Forgoing a will means that the fate of your life’s earnings, your personal belongings and your legacy are in the hands of the probate court. It’s never too early to start thinking about your will. You can update it along the way as your life changes, and you’ll know that you’re always covered in case something happens.
If you’re ready to get started on your will, contact Mestayer Law Firm today. We can help you get your affairs in order so you don’t have to worry and your family can have peace of mind. Give us a call today at 228-762-1193 to learn more.
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This article does not create an attorney-client relationship. I am licensed to practice law in Mississippi and have based the information presented on US laws. This article is legal information and is for entertainment and informational purposes only and should not be seen as legal advice. You should consult with an attorney before you rely on this information. Any information provided in this blog is accurate and true to the best of my knowledge, but that there may be omissions, errors or mistakes.