What happens if you die without a will?

On Behalf of | Jan 29, 2024 | Probate, Wills

Perhaps you have heard of estate planning, which is arranging and managing an individual’s assets, properties and financial affairs to prepare for the future. This is true, but it is not mandatory and not everyone does it. In fact, some people die without a will.

People who die without a will have to go through probate courts, which are courts especially dedicated to managing the assets of people who pass away without a will.

Indiana has laws in place for these people and these laws determine who gets the person’s belongings. Each state has a similar system; although every state can have its own laws, they are all similar in nature.

Order of things

Family members are the first to inherit. This includes:

  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Siblings

If the individual who passed away does not have a close family, the court will look for extended family.

Complications may arise

The distribution of assets according to the law can become a source of problems among family members who disagree with who should receive what. The law may also split your assets but not in the way you would have wanted.

The court’s involvement

The court will become involved and oversee the distribution of the person’s estate. This can take months or even years, and it can be costly, especially if someone in the family contests it.

The process of distributing your assets is stressful, adding more problems to family members and loved ones who are most likely going through the process of mourning and grieving the loss of their loved one.

Why you should have a will or estate plan

It is critical to prepare for the future, and having a will or creating an estate plan allows you to do this. By doing so, you ensure your assets end up in the hands of those you choose and avoid potential disputes by clarifying that your choice is to leave a certain asset to a certain person, and so on.

By preparing for the future, you can avoid family disputes and encourage positive relationships between them, as well as save your family money, because going through the courts can be costly and take a long time.

A will or estate plan is your opportunity to create an instruction booklet for your future and a way of protecting your legacy and everything you worked so hard for. You will have peace of mind knowing that you are prepared for whatever may come and so is your family.