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What Happens If You Die Without a Will?

Andrea Shoup

A will is an excellent tool to make a plan for your assets and heirs after you die. Everyone needs to have an estate plan, but most people do not make a plan until they approach the golden years in life. Unfortunately, oftentimes people pass away unexpectedly, never having made arrangements for a will. Here’s what happens when that occurs. 

What Happens After You Die and There Is No Will? 

Each state has an intestacy law that instructs how your money and assets are distributed if you were to pass away without a will. Through a process called probate, the government decides who gets what. Most of the time, the assets are distributed to family members.

Non-family loved ones or stepchildren are not on the list of distribution. If you want your assets to be split among specific people that may not fall in line with what the state would do, you’ll need to draw up a will.

For example, if you pass away and have a surviving spouse with adult children, the money will be divided evenly among all of those family members. However, if you die single with no children, the beneficiaries start to include parents, siblings, and other relatives.

Many single people without children have friends who become family throughout the years, including the people you spend the holidays with and raise kids together. These people will have no right to your estate if you do not specify so in the will.

If you die in a domestic partnership, it depends on the state if your partner is recognized as a beneficiary. For those states that recognize domestic partnerships, the assets will be distributed the same as with a surviving spouse.

Some Assets Have Named Beneficiaries

You may think you are covered if you have named beneficiaries of some funds. For example, a life insurance policy will ask you to name a beneficiary, and you can ensure that your domestic partner is specified. Similarly, retirement funds will ask that you choose the beneficiary.

Keep in mind that not all assets are covered, even if you have chosen a beneficiary for some sources of money. Creating a will is the most secure path toward passing down your assets to the people that you love the most.

It’s time to get your estate plan together. Shoup Legal is here to help. Give us a call at (951) 455-4114 or email us at to learn more about how we can help you plan today for peace of mind tomorrow.

Written by Andrea Shoup

Shoup Legal, A Professional Law Corporation can be reached at (951) 445-4114.

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