If your loved one dies intestate, that is, without a last will and testament, his or her property and assets may not be divided according to his or her wishes. Marital status, state of residency, existence of children, debts, and other factors are involved in determining how your loved one's estate will be handled. In all cases, all debts and court fees must be settled first, and only then is the remainder of the assets divided between surviving relatives. If your loved one had a substantial estate, the state may appoint someone to handle its administration and division.

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While there's no clear way to predict exactly how property, bank accounts, and other assets will be divided by the state, there are a few common outcomes:

  • The estate of single persons without children goes to their parents, or, if their parents are no longer alive, to the persons' siblings or next-of-kin.
  • The children of single persons get the entirety of the estate.
  • Spouses tend to get one half to a third of the estate, and the rest is divided among the children (if there are any), or given to the deceased's parents (or next-of-kin).
  • In some states, domestic partners have the same rights as married couples concerning inheritance and control over funeral plans and disposal of remains.

Without a last will, your loved ones cannot set out details for how they want to be memorialized and have their remains dealt with, nor can they leave bequests to charities. As uncomfortable as it is to bring up this topic, you should make sure that your loved ones create and maintain wills, so that you can respect their wishes even when they're gone.  It only takes a few minutes to make a last willonline with Rocket Lawyer, so don't wait to give yourself peace of mind.

Get started Start Your Last Will and Testament Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.

Get started Start Your Last Will and Testament Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.