Everyone knows they’re going to die’ he said again, ‘but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently.’’
-Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie
When I was a kid, I had a leather bag full of “treasures” hidden in my closet. These, along with a few special books and family pictures, were my most valuable possessions. I had no idea what happens when you die without a will, but I used to imagine that if I tragically died, my treasures would get taken (since they were clearly oh-so-valuable!). So from time to time I would pull out a piece of notebook paper and scribble my own version of a will, sentimentally bequeathing my treasures to people in my family. This was just one dramatic outworking of my vivid imagination; obviously, no 9-year-old needs a will.
But it does attest to the fact that even the smallest and simplest of us have pieces of ourselves we would want to give back to the people we love. And that’s what most people think of when they think about creating a will – bequeathing things they own to others.
(Related: Want to know how to get certain things to certain people at the end of your life? Click here.)
What Happens If You Die Without A Will?
While it’s true that leaving our possessions to loved ones a huge part of what a Last Will and Testament accomplishes, it actually does a lot more. It keeps several messy situations from happening. Believe us, what happens if you die without a will is often not a pretty picture.
If you’re considering whether or not it’s worth the time, energy, and money to create a Last Will and Testament, or if it seems like something you should do but you’ve never really known why it’s so important, let us give you some insight into what happens if you die without a will:
If You Don’t Make A Plan, The Government Has One Ready
If you died today with no will, your estate would become what’s called “intestate”.
“Intestacy” is just a legal term that refers to your state government’s default plan for what happens to your assets if you die without a will. Because many people aren’t prepared to pass away when they do, the government has to have some type of process in place to distribute their possessions and close their estate for them.
But you likely won’t want the government controlling how your finances and personal property are administered, nor will you want the family problems that arise so often with intestacy.
If intestacy enters the picture, one of these issues almost certainly comes along with it:
- Your property can go to the wrong person
- The wrong person can be selected as your executor
- Practical, end-of-life decisions can become overcomplicated
- Your minor children may end up in terrible situations
- You lose your opportunity for relational estate planning
To learn more about intestacy and the problems it can cause, click here.
What Happens If You Die Without A Will Doesn’t Have to Happen to You
These unfortunate situations are all possibilities for what happens when you die without a will. But if you take the time to create a legally binding estate plan, you won’t have to give these worst-case scenarios a second thought.
Click here to request your free estate planning consultation today.