What Happens To Your Family if You Die Without a Will

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Estate Planning Lawyer

You may think that you don’t need a will because you don’t have much in the way of property, so it doesn’t matter what happens to it when you die. However, making out a will isn’t only about what happens to your property; it’s also about showing consideration for the people you leave behind. Losing a family member is difficult enough. If you don’t have a will, the process becomes much more complicated, and that can mean trouble for your loved ones. Here’s how it may affect them if you die intestate, that is, without a will.

Whole Family

If you die without a will, the court has to step in and make decisions on your behalf. While the court deliberates, your estate will be in limbo. No one in your family will be able to touch it, even if you made it verbally clear before you died who was to receive what. With emotions already running high, your family members may resent the court’s decision. The conflict over the estate can cause a rift in your family, pitting one side against another. For example, your family of origin may get into an argument with your spouse, or vice versa.

Your Children

If you have minor children, someone will have to assume guardianship if you die while they are still young and the other parent is either unwilling or unable to care for them. You can name a guardian in your will if you have someone specific in mind whom you think would be suitable. However, if you do not have a will, the court has to choose a guardian in your stead. This decision may be based on genetic closeness rather than emotional closeness.

Your Pet

Animals do not have legal status, so your pet is regarded as property in the eyes of the law. Making out a will allows you to leave your pet to someone whom you know will take care of it. If you do not have a will, that decision will fall to your immediate family members. Your pet could end up in a shelter if no one in your family is willing to take on the responsibility. Conversely, if more than one family member wants to take care of your pet, it could start another fight.

A will is not really something that you make for yourself. It is something you make for the people you leave behind to save them unnecessary trouble and expense. An estate planning lawyer, such as from Citadel Law Firm, can help you start the estate planning process when you contact our office.