Do you know what happens if you die without a will? Here’s the story of one family who learned the hard way. In this family, the grandmother (who had a will) died. While the estate was being settled, her adult daughter died, leaving behind three children in their early 20s.
When the daughter died, her estate would receive the inheritance bequeathed to her in her mother’s will. The daughter died without a will, leaving her children to struggle financially until their mother’s intestate estate was granted a Certificate of Appointment, allowing the children to access the expected inheritance from their mother’s estate.
You may think you don’t need a will because maybe you have few assets, no children or a kind and thoughtful family who will sort out your affairs on your behalf, but it’s time to smarten up. Dying intestate is more problematic than you think. Without a will, here’s what else could happen.
Your grieving family will be completely confused. Your estate will sit in a horrible limbo without an executor to take charge of your assets and start probate proceedings. Family members won’t know what to do and may simply start helping themselves to your stuff before the courts step in.
Your family cannot access your assets. Your assets will be frozen. Your loved ones won’t be able to access your money to cover your funeral expenses and any expected inheritances will sit in limbo until the court appoints someone to be your personal representative. This will likely be your closest relative so ask yourself, is this person who you would choose to manage your affairs?
Your family may fight. Death without a will does not bring out the best in people. And how your intestate estate is distributed will likely leave everyone frustrated.
Your minor children will go wherever the court decides. If it is not written in a will, and there’s no other parent around, you lose the chance to decide who will raise your minor children.
Your pets may not get the care they deserve. Shelters are full of pets whose owners died, leaving them with no pre-arranged place to live.
Writing a will isn’t overly time-consuming. Dying without a will is for those you leave behind. More importantly, the cost of dying without a will is huge compared to the cost of writing a will while you’re alive.
* This article does not replace legal advice and is meant to be for information purposes only. Please consult us or any other legally trained professional.