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What would happen if I died without an estate plan?

Even though having a will is an important aspect of a well-rounded estate plan, many individuals fail to plan for the future and draft one. When a person passes away without having a will in affect, his or her estate goes into intestate succession where state law dictates how an individual's property is handled.

Because intestate succession means that the law drafts the will for an individual that didn't have one, it tries to distribute property in a way that closely represents the way the average individual would have. Unfortunately, without thorough knowledge and an understanding of how the decedents would have really wanted their estate handled, intestate succession may differ dramatically from decedent's wishes.

When an estate goes into intestate succession and the law decides where and how the decedent's property is passed along, there are a few issues that many find difficult to handle. Since state law is making the decisions, no exceptions are made regarding special circumstances or need. This means that even if the decedent's wishes are known, without a will, no deviation from state law can be made. Property and assets are passed on to heirs in a reasonable manner. This method does not take into account emotional ties, special circumstances or beliefs. Generally speaking, state law suggests that the surviving spouse is eligible to receive the entire estate or at the very least, a substantial portion of it.

When it comes to an estate plan and your final wishes, nothing addresses these concerns like a comprehensive will. To avoid the complications and frustrations of intestate succession, it may be best to work with an experienced attorney to draft an effective and well-rounded will.

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