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What Happens if I Die without a Will or a Trust?

If you die without a Will or Trust, your assets will be divided up based on the intestacy laws of the state where you live at the time of your death and the intestacy laws of any other state where you own assets.

Many times the intestacy laws will give different results from what you would have wanted had you taken the time to make a Will or Trust. If you own assets located outside of your home state, you could have two different sets of beneficiaries of your assets.

For example, in Florida and in Virginia, if you are survived by a spouse and children from the marriage, your spouse will inherit 100% and your children will receive nothing.

Use the same set of facts, except that your children are from a different spouse. In Florida, your current spouse will inherit one-half and your children will share equally in the remaining one-half, while in Virginia your current spouse will inherit one-third and you children will share equally in the remaining two-thirds.

Take that same set of facts in Illinois, and if you are survived by a spouse and children, no matter which spouse (current or former) the children are from, your current spouse will inherit one-half of your assets and your child (or children) will inherit the other half.

The examples illustrate what a difference state intestacy laws can make. The only way to insure that after your death your assets will go to the beneficiaries of your choice and will be distributed by the person you want making the distributions at the time you want your beneficiaries to receive them is to make an estate plan which includes a Will or a Trust.

Consult your estate planning attorney for further information.