American Indian Owned Law Firm

What does it mean to die intestate?

On Behalf of | Jul 2, 2024 | Probate & Estate Planning

As you start looking into your estate planning options, you may have come across the term “intestate.” It is used to refer to when someone passes away without a will. This person is said to have “died intestate”, which changes how their assets are going to be passed on to their adult children and other members of future generations.

Essentially, this term just means that the person passed away without a will or an estate plan. They don’t have any documentation in place. Since they died intestate, their estate has to go through the court. State law is going to be used to determine how assets should be passed on and who should receive a portion of the estate.

Why is this a problem?

For one thing, this can be a problem if state law doesn’t reflect your own wishes. If you draft an estate plan, you could use it to leave money to charity or to put money in a trust to save for a grandchild’s future college education. But if you don’t have an estate plan, the law is not going to do anything nearly this elaborate. Odds are that your estate will simply be taxed and passed to your direct descendants.

Dying intestate can also cause problems regarding estate disputes or disagreements between heirs and beneficiaries. Once again, drafting an estate plan allows you to avoid this because you can make your intentions known. You can talk to your beneficiaries about what they should expect. You can create a plan that puts your family first. State law isn’t going to do that, and so your family members may get into disputes over what you truly wanted or what should happen to family heirlooms.

This helps to show why you want to avoid dying intestate. If you don’t have an estate plan yet, it’s time to consider your legal options.