Unfortunately, everyone is not able to complete their estate planning process before passing away. In the event that a relative or loved one dies without a will, what can you expect to occur in the aftermath?

The Process After a Relative Dies Without a Will

First, state law will be consulted depending on where the relative died. There is typically a list of people who can serve as the executor. In general, spouses, registered domestic partners and blood relatives will be the only ones who can inherit assets in the absence of a formal will. The first distributions will be made to a surviving spouse and then adult children and other family members. Partners who are not married or legally recognized, friends and non-profits will not be given anything.

The surviving spouse will typically get the largest proportion of the assets, and if there are not children, they will receive all of the property. After spouses and children, parents, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews can take possession in the absence of grandchildren.  Distant relatives could be eligible for inheriting property or assets if there is not a surviving spouse and there are no children. There are some rare cases where the state is wholly unable to find any relatives, and in those cases, the state could take possession of the assets.

It might surprise you to know that states have rules that prevent certain people from inheriting any property or assets if they behaved poorly toward the deceased person. For example, if a parent abandoned their child, they are unable to inherit property from the deceased child. Legally adopted children are able to inherit from their adoptive parents just like a biological child would be able to. Stepchildren, particularly if they were not legally adopted, will not be included in the inheritance list. However, half-siblings could be considered.

Estate Planning and Tax Filing with Miles Tax Advisory

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