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What can happen to my estate if I die without a will?

On Behalf of | Jul 12, 2023 | Estate Planning, Probate |

When a person dies, their family members could rely on their estate plan to determine what to do with their assets. Ideally, they could settle matters based on the deceased’s wishes. However, some people could pass on without a will. In this instance, local intestacy laws could come into play.

These policies determine what happens to the deceased’s estate, including distribution to valid heirs and beneficiaries. Ohio’s intestacy laws typically consider the deceased’s close family members and relatives based on the circumstances. The guidelines could vary, depending on the situation. However, Ohio’s probate court could divide the deceased’s estate accordingly:

  • With a surviving spouse and no children: The entire estate goes to the spouse.
  • With a surviving spouse and children: The spouse receives the estate.
  • With a surviving spouse and children from a previous marriage: The spouse receives $20,000 plus half of the remaining estate. The rest goes to the deceased’s children.
  • With a surviving spouse and children, including kids from a previous marriage: The spouse receives a specific dollar amount plus one-third of the estate. Each child will receive an equal part of the estate’s remaining balance.
  • With no surviving spouse but with surviving children: The children receive equal parts of the estate.
  • No surviving spouse and children: The deceased’s surviving parents could receive the estate. Without surviving parents, the siblings receive equal parts of the estate.

However, the terms of distribution could vary based on the deceased’s circumstances. Intestacy laws consider other contributing factors that could influence asset distribution.

Emerging uncertainties when dying without a will

Without a will, the court cannot consider the deceased’s wishes regarding the estate. If they proceed based on intestacy laws alone, they might overlook financial obligations the deceased took care of before their death. Sometimes, the court’s decision might cause disputes among family members, resulting in additional stress and grief.

Seeking legal counsel could help give clarifications about estate matters. Additionally, preparing an estate plan could resolve these uncertainties and address the needs of the surviving family.

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